June 15, 2019

My Adventures With Organic Daylilies

I was asked by many to continue my adventures with daylilies during the past 50 years.

I see that I left off the convention that I will write about today, that is Chicago in 1961. At the time, I was really looking forward to this one since we would be visiting the gardens of David Hall, Orville Fay, Elmer Claar, Hubert Fischer, Nathan Rudolph, and Paul Watts. At that time, Chicago was the very heart of the choice hybridizers.

Flying in from Newark, NJ. I got there early thursday morning and I meet Dr. George Darrow at the hotel door. George was a member of the NCDC and was famous for his work with small organic fruit trees (blueberries, strawberries, etc.). I had meet him earlier when Ruth and I picked strawberries from his ‘pick your own’ fields.

Blueberries are test and that is one of the reasons he was there, to see how it was being done with daylilies. George was tired, he had driven from Washington and asked me to drive him to visit Orville Fay and some other gardens if possible. I asked a lady from our club who knew Chicago to guide us.

When we arrived at Orville Fay’s, Steve Moldovan had just arrived (Steve worked for Mr. Fay during his youth) and Mr. Fay asked Steve to take us on a grand garden tour. I knew Steve when he was in the Navy and was stationed in Maryland around 1959-60. (Steve visited my garden on an Iris tour around that time.) Steve showed us the results of the tet seed treatments and I remember seeing the parents of FRANCIS FAY, which were rosey red tones. FRANCIS FAY was my favorite hem at that time.

Visit to the Elmer Claar

From Orville Fay’s we went to visit Elmer Claar. I was very much impressed with the grounds and home of Mr. Claar. He took us on grand tour of his daylilies, but said that he was disappointed with how his red daylilies performed in his own yard. Because of the use of lime in his compost he said he didn’t get the rich red color that most other growers did.

At the time most of our club members fought over which was better ALLAN or BESS ROSS, my favorite was LEXINGTON which for me always bloomed 2 or 3 times, and the ruffling was great. I used LEXINGTON with SOLO (Branch ’60) to create my FAT JACK. I won SOLO at the Chicago Flower Convention and used it for a lot more introductions. SOLO, a great parent, was used by Oscie Whatley on most of his early yellows.

My first mentor was Carey Quinn, who was a close neighbor of my family when I grew up. When Ruth and I brought a new house, shortly after we were married, Carey supplied me with daffodils, iris, mums and a few daylilies. Then one day in 1955 he took me to visit Willard King’s garden. Willard had all the very latest hems, he was on the AHS board of directors and was chairman of publications. He liked humor in the journal, such as “A Letter To My Fanny”, which is in Journal Vol.15 No. 3.

Carey Quinn’s Organic Garden

Carey Quinn’s garden was about the size of a very small postage stamp. He loved red daylilies particularly those of David Hall, WAR EAGLE (Hall ’57) was the top one at the time. Gene Wild decided that Mr. Hall should name a red one in honor of Carey Quinn. After going thru two seedlings that Carey didn’t like, I got a phone call from Mrs. Quinn stating that another seedling had arrived, but Carey was too sick to plant it. (She didn’t touch the hems!) Thus, I then ended up planting the final plant that became CAREY QUINN.

Well, enough for now, will touch base later. I need to find out about Joe Gibbs being the Redskin coach!

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