Brand new Master Gardener Mary Hamilton has not only managed to relocate herself, her husband and their cocker spaniel Sophie into their new rural Daphne home, but this wonder woman has also designed and fashioned a charming garden filled with …
Brand new Master Gardener Mary Hamilton has not only managed to relocate herself, her husband and their cocker spaniel Sophie into their new rural Daphne home, but this wonder woman has also designed and fashioned a charming garden filled with plants that she loves — all in less than a year's time.
"I start with a blank yard and make it my own," she says with a smile.
She continuously adds perennials from her native Illinois that flourish in coastal Alabama.
"We were used to the heat," Mary explains. "We lived in Troy before moving down here. I have dealt with various soil challenges, from the heavy clay soil in Tennessee and Georgia to the sandy soil down here. My husband and I collect our grass clippings and use them as mulch in our gardens. It sure makes the best tomatoes," she shares.
This retired teacher and grandmother of two began growing her beloved daylilies in 2005 when she acquired seven plants from her grandmother.
"They were the common orange varieties, and later I got some yellow ones from a friend in Tennessee," she says. "I do seem to have a green thumb. My dad and granddad were both farmers on farmland we still have in Illinois, and my mother grew petunias and geraniums."
From this modest beginning of seven daylily plants, Mary now has more than 200 colorful, charming varieties growing in beds throughout her yard.
These lovely lilies can be found in many shades of yellow, pink, red, purple and melon, and Mary displays many of these in her garden. She proudly points out the stately purple of the Royal Palace Prince daylily, poised fetchingly on its stem.
All about daylillies
- Perennial flowers that grow throughout Alabama
- Flourish in fertile, well-drained soil
- Once established, require little care
- Grow in partial shade to full sunlight
- Highly diverse in color and form
- Most blooms open in the early morning and wither during the following night, although some species are night bloomers.
- Often called "the perfect perennial" due to its dazzling colors, ability to tolerate drought, capability to thrive in many areas and its requiring little care
"I am always looking for new varieties," she says,"I get some from friends in Illinois and order others online. I really like the varieties with green throats and have the Chicago Star variety, which is yellow with a green throat."
This four-state successful gardener not only has transplanted and grown magnificent daylilies, but thriving butterfly bushes, rich clematis, old roses, woody peonies, agapanthus, firecracker plants, nasturtiums, Mexican petunias, cannas, gingers and potted multi-colored hibiscus all grow graciously in Mary's curving beds.
Vegetables have not been neglected in Mary's garden, either. Beside her delicious heirloom tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, okra and artichokes stand tall and provide Mary and family with delicious produce all summer long. She plants basil among her flowers and nurtures herbs in containers throughout the garden.
When asked for secrets to her gardening success, Mary readily shares,"I believe in deep watering. I water two or three days a week and compost the spent blooms from my flowers.”
Mary is a 12-month gardener and works long days in her yard, taking a dip in the pool when she gets too hot.
Always the eager experimenter when it comes to daylilies, Mary explains, "I want more of the eight to 10-inch blooms. I also want to begin grouping my daylilies by colors. In Illinois, the people want no-trouble gardening-set out a shrub or tree and forget about it. Here, people really love their flowers and fauna, and gardening is a passion!"
Daylilies are quite adaptable — kind of like this gardener — accepting all types of soil and blooming agreeably all over the garden.
"I garden because I feel very close to God,” Mary says. “Watching nature at work — the birds and butterflies — brings to me a release, and I find it very peaceful."
Mary, of course, is not the only gardener who feels that way. Gardens, whether filled with daylilies or dandelions, tomatoes or tulips, speak to us and show us the very essence of life as they pulse with the colors, textures and sounds of Mother Nature at work.