The national daylily convention took place in Columbus, Ohio last week. What better theme for the big event than "Discovering Columbus?" Actually, it's more a title than a theme, as the key experience of a daylily convention is discovering people you may have known only through email or not at all. There is plenty of opportunity for that, as conventions are built around two days of bus tours of mostly household gardens.
The owners of these gardens have spent many years working on their landscaping and garden designs to promote the utmost enjoyment and interest for the visitors, not to mention themselves!
There are so many outstanding daylily breeders in Ohio that an extra day of touring was added for anyone who wanted to arrive a day early. Kathy and I jumped on that opportunity. We drove to Columbus last Wednesday with our good friend, Seajay Mock, and arrived around four in the afternoon. A little later we took our GPS and found our way to the "German Village" area of Columbus and to Schmidt's Sausage Haus and Restaurant. The evening was gentle when we got there, the wait for a table wasn't too bad, and the Haus was bustling with munching and gulping and dessert oggling.
The point of this post is Bob Faulkner, so I will dispense with a description of the mile-high plates of food I saw leaving the buffet line. In a sausage haus, how can you avoid sampling them all?
Thursday morning, heavy-laden, we boarded the bus for a long drive to the Dayton area. Bob's place is on a narrow and shady country road. A person driving that road for the first time would probably not miss Bob's property because there is a sudden and dramatic change in the view as you come upon a lush roadside garden backed by a fancy black iron fence. A stranger to this scene might imagine some kind of artist lives here, and the bold would stop to inquire.
There's what you see from the road. The garden does not shout "daylilies!" It says in all simplicy, "I do it my way." In gold lettering within the big iron circle, you can read, if you stop, "Little York Farm, Est. 1834." To the right side of this view is another iron gate and probably the best deer fence you've ever seen.
The lettering over this gate says "Time began in a garden." The strange thing to the left of the gate is a metal sculpture of a daylily. Several of these were convention raffle prizes.
You can't see the daylily breeding area from here. Daylily breeding is not a pretty sight. The rows of black plastic weed fabric are lined with unique plants fighting for their short-term life in a nail-biting draught, hoping Bob will favor them with several years of "further evaluation" and possible registration and sale down the line. What you see as you enter the zone of Bob's life is a beautifully designed tranquility garden featuring a collection of distinctive rocks with companion plants.
Then you walk back into Bob's breeding zone. The crazy weather this year brought on a bloom season two or three weeks earlier than average. Bob's daylilies were well past their peak bloom, and yet I saw scores of seedlings testifying to Bob's interest in patterns on the floral face. I was especially drawn to this one for the huge lavender eye on a clean cream face that curves down and out again as if dancing the Limbo.
This, too, drew my complete attention. The petals curve inward in a suggestion of modesty and shyness, but the complex pattern within suggests that the modesty is concealing a spectacle of colors. The soul of this one is decidedly "mysterioso."
This next one is outspoken and brash and probably should run for President the next go-round, if only for a week or so. This is like a belted song on the Broadway stages, and no microphone is necessary, thank you.
You can imagine the summer days of Bob-the-Artist as he weighs the best of these and looks for the excellent plant structure beneath these dazzling and seductive faces. His garden is chock full of distinct faces. His cup runneth over.
You've got to have a sense of humor when the weather conspires to punish your garden just before a tour. We all chuckled at the sign on this fence.
This was one of my favorite stops of the whole convention, and it had the fewest flowers in bloom. Maybe it's because I was started out like all those seedlings, in a country town where my grandparents got their fresh eggs from the chicken coop.
Sooner or later on a bus tour, the captain blows the whistle and it's time to say goodbye. So little time....so many faces.