July 16, 2019

My Journey Making Organic Compost

It was May 1989 when Ruth and I flew to Jacksonville, FL. to judge and attend a region 12 meeting. Two of the gardens that I remember visiting on the tour, were those of Ed Brown’s and Dave Talbott’s. JANICE BROWN ’86 was the top favorite in Ed’s garden. I remember using it as a parent and keeping one of the seedlings from that cross to be used as a parent. I guess the tender gene or genes showed up at that point and I never got any seeds at all from that seedling. RUFFLED SUNBURST ’83 and JB were the only ones of Ed’s that did grow well for me.

The visit to Dave Talbott’s garden or ‘sale yard’ was like going to a carnival. Dave had a crew digging plants for who ever wanted them. All you needed to do was place a colored flag beside the plant and wait for one of the crew to dig your plants. Dave had a lot of different flag colors to choice from and these flags gave the carnival feeling. Back in ’83 when Nancy Keeran, Paul Botting and myself visited Dave’s garden SPANISH MASQUERADE (Munson ’81) was the one that I just had to grow. Some years later when I had bought MARTHA ADAMS (Spalding ’79) he send such a great clump that it survived a very severe winter the following year. Only half the clump died, thus leaving me with several fans to continue on.

Organic Compost in your Garden

From Jacksonville Ruth and I drove to visit the garden of Bill Munson in Gainesville, FL. As I recall Betty Hudson and Ida Munson were there to greet us. Bill was a member of the AHS when I joined in ’58 and I remember seeing his cultivars in Willard King’s garden at that time. Bill had sent many them of them for testing in our region, and by ’64 he had some that were very hardy. Those that I grew were FOUNTAINHEAD ’64 which was followed by YASMIN ’69, GAUGUIN ’69 and ELIZABETH ANN HUTSON 75. Seems like I always missed seeing Bill in his garden, but I did get to talk with Bill at the various conventions that we attended.

Then, it was on to visit Sara Sikes in Luverne, AL. After I first meet Sara back in ’83 we started purchased hems back and forth and then one day, she “made my day” by using one of my cultivars to create one of hers. At the time of that first visit Sara shows us two paintings of her daylilies that Ned Irish had just given her (He was there). SOUTHERN CHARMER ’83 was the hit of the garden at that first visit. Sara’s ANTIQUE ROSE ’87 is one of the parents of my FASHIONAIRE ’94. Her NEAL BERREY ’85 is pollen parent of my RUNAWAY ROMANCE ’00. I had NB in the garden for 4 or 5 years before I ever used it as a parent. I’ve gotten near whites out of it and a few near whites out of RR.

From Sara’s we drove on to stay at the home of Ruth and John Allgood in Walterboro, SC. Ruth, convention chairperson, and John were getting ready for the ’89 Savannah, GA Convention. My Ruth was to help with dressing-up the inside of their house, which was to be part of the convention tour. My task was to clean-up the old and dried foliage in the gardens. I did have some help with my task when I conned a lady from the NCDC (she was staying in Walterboro) to help me. All this was a sort of a pay-back for Ruth Allgood being a host in our garden during the ’87 DC. convention.

Compacting Leaves for Organic Compost

Back in ’83 we (Nancy, Paul and Ruth) stayed in an empty house trailer at the Allgoods before we went on to Savannah. It was in Savannah that we went visit Joyce Brook, who was in a round robin with me. Joyce and her husband had visited Ruth and me several times as the results of being robin members. Joyce then took us to visit the Joiner garden were we got a real good cook’s tour. It was several years later that Mr. Joiner named a daylily (JOYCE BROOK ’85) in honor of the late Joyce Brook’s inspiration for the ’89 convention.

The president’s cup at the Savannah convention was FRANCES JOINER, a great double still enjoyed by many. Another item that comes to my mind, is at that time, the AHS President was Annie Weinreich, who is the daughter of Jean and Phil DuMont. Phil was one of the very first members to join the NCDC after it was started. He was very active with the club’s annual show and was also a NCDC President. Annie and her husband move about the country quite a bit and I’m sure many of you know them.

During the course of time I have used many different types of humus in the garden. Leaves is the one item that I have most likely have used the most. Before I moved to my present home, I always had a 6 yard bin full of compacted leaves. But it wasn’t until ’73, when I bought an El Cameo, that I started gathering leaves for my present garden. My office was about 15 miles away, and on the way home each day I would fill it up with the bagged leaves that I picked up along the way. I then stored the leaves in 10 foot round wire bins in the field behind my property. I still gather leaves today from friends homes in the nearby area.

Another source of humus was in some of the trades I made. Such as trading some daffodils for two separate (different years) truck loads of compost manure that originally came from the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Another time I traded some daylilies for several pick-up loads of compost horse manure. I now, with my pick-up truck, purchase what I guess is more than just leaf-mold, but composted leaves done at an old farm near here. They also double shred the hardwood mulch that I use each year, which is about 15 yards. Several times I’ve purchased mushroom soil from them. In addition, I have always have about 4.5 yards of organic compost working with about half of it available for use.

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