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Musings

It is now November 3rd as I write these musings, and we lined some plants out yesterday. Last year, at this time, we had been freezing for almost two weeks. In July, August and September, we had no rainfall. The power bill for the well water astounded us. After a 4 inch rainfall, we felt rejuvenation and relief. Here, all outdoor water lines have to be drained for the winter. TV tells us we have at least another week of good weather - or more?

Last year we completed our lining out in mid October, but we had freezing weather in late October. It was a cold winter with many freezes and thaws. As a result we had many plants to heave from the ground and freeze. The tender evergreens took a beating. This year we are being forced to mulch the tender ones - a case of survival!

Even with the "winter" problems, the summer bloom was excellent. We were able to select the possible '07 introductions and line them out. Several seedlings from Tetra Javier pleased us - see pictures - and though they lacked the immensely popular gold edge, they had wonderful color. Neither were they look-a-likes to other "reds" on the market. The second generation seedlings tried to bloom, but they had been lined out too late the previous year.

We are delighted by the number of "blue" eyed seedlings that have flowered - some with very narrow bluish eyes to the very wide. A couple were lined out for possible '07's.

The '06 introductions are a variety of forms and colors. We like variety. All have many good qualities but with the idea, "If only ..." That "If only ..." is why daylily enthusiasts and hybridizer continue to seek perfection. It still eludes us all.

In a world of "tets," can you imagine a "diploid" on the front cover? We continue to hybridize diploids only because it is possible to obtain cleaner color - and some varieties "ask" to be crossed. Remember that this is exciting - a continuing experience - and not a resolution to the Mid-East Crisis!

The bloom season rarely varies here. It seems to me that the peak bloom period is now almost the fourth week of June rather than the second or third. We are still in full bloom the first week of July. The varieties from the deep South adjust after a couple of years and are no longer early.

Have you noticed that some varieties are highly susceptible to thrip? Ida's Magic is one of these. Do you want perfect blooms for the show? Use Ortho House and Garden insect spray - green can. Spray the scapes and buds a week before and several times prior to the show. Even reds and purples will be perfect.

Last season we mentioned our interest in disease-free roses. We are now testing 19 varieties and we can give a report: The Knockout series - Knockout, Double Knockout, Pink Knockout, and Blushing Knockout - appear to be free of blackspot. They are very free-flowering. Ramblin Red by the same hybridizer, Bill Rader, is disease free and a spectacular double red climber. Hot Cocoa, Living Easy, and Easy Going are also excellent. Chihuly, Playboy, Carefree Beauty, Sunsprite, and Zack had a little blackspot but were never unsightly or in need of spraying. They are beautiful! Some of the others we are growing are also disease free but not nearly so spectacular as the above.

Many (!) years ago I had hundreds of mums, but they had disappeared. I wanted more; so in the spring of '03 I bought 120 varieties. The following spring ('04) only about 25 or so came up. So I bought 120 more. This spring I was watering them as the soil began to sink. The voles had eaten my mums! Are the new mums varieties hardy? Possibly. I intend to try again as they are wonderful now in flower.

We do continue to expand our flora-non-grata list. Those plants that run underground are a real nuisance, coming up in the middle of more desirable plants. Also, beware of seed droppers! Pictured beautifully in plant catalogs, they can be hectic to get rid of. The far-and-a-way worst items here are a white flowering allium that we got in a pot at Magnolia Gardens in Charleston, SC, and a pink Oxalis. We have two different pink Oxalis. The bad one has larger leaves and flowers and makes dozens of very tiny bulbs. These two plants are worse than wild onions. They spread from the top and the bottom. You have to dig them out with a large ball of dirt to get all the little bulbs.

Zeke and Spitz continue to delight us with their antics. They have learned to get their way! Ah, felines...

We try to retain as much dormancy in our cultivars as possible. We find that how a cultivar will react here depends on the kind of winter we have. In October, '04, we were warm until the middle of the month and then went directly into a hard freeze. The plants were all lush and green and they all fell over in one night. The dormants were fine; the evergreens took a beating.

All beds here are cleaned in January/February to avoid any pests overwintering. Dormants will begin to emerge in the middle of February; evergreens will take longer to recuperate.

We are now trying to purchase only those cultivars that we plan to use in our hybridizing. Alas, we do fail to grow many beautiful varieties, but one simply cannot grow everything.

This season we completed the major part of lining out by the middle of October, and it was not a moment too soon. We have two mid-tined tillers for working in the sales beds. Both broke down at the same time and the repair estimates are too high to consider repairing them. I expect tools to last a lifetime! We are now using Mantis tiller number 5. It really does dig well but it is not intended for hours of tilling at one time.

Shipping costs continue to rise, especially with UPS. This coming season we will be shipping with the US Postal Service using their Priority Mail which appears to be quite good. Frankly, we have seen little difference in plant appearance (Spring shipping) between 2 day or 3-4 day arrivals. We tend to ship large sturdy bloom-size plants which should do well for you.

We are listing our shipping dates as April 1st to June 1st. Give us an idea of when you would like your plants shipped. Most winters, all of our plants freeze completely to the ground so we cannot even consider digging anything until mid March. Also, we often get a bad freeze about the middle of March making the plants that are looking good, un-shipable for a couple of weeks. If we do not get the freeze the plants can go out earlier.

The Carolina Breakfast Club meets the second Wednesday of each month at 9:00 A.M. for breakfast, daylily chatter, garden visits, slide shows, Nursery and Botanical Garden visits - and even a plant auction. Our meeting location changes each month in the Carolinas. If you.re interested in visiting or joining us, just email or call. It is a great group of daylily fanatics!

We are listing very few $10 plants in our catalog. Most $10 varieties have been planted in two locations for garden sales only. There are about 200 varieties in this group.

Ordering Information:

Our shipping season runs from about April 1st until the first week of June. We accept no catalog orders after June 1st. Garden sales have then begun. We mail no catalogs after June 1st. Any requests received after June 1st will be honored the following year.

Club Orders:

Clubs are encouraged to call to receive details about orders and availability.

Garden Visiting:

We will be open from May 24th through July 16th. WE WILL BE OPEN FIVE DAYS A WEEK, Wednesday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM. We are closed Monday and Tuesday so that once again, we are able to visit other gardens during the bloom season. If you find it convenient to visit at another time, please call to be sure there will be someone here to help you, and the gates are open.

2271 County Line Road
Kings Mountain, NC 28086

We are located between Kings Mountain and Cherryville on Hwy. 216 (eight miles north of Kings Mountain and four miles south of Cherryville). We are about 10 miles north of I-85, depending on which exit you take from the interstate.

If you are coming north on I-85, it is easiest to exit at Hwy 216, marked "Kings Mountain" or "Kings Mountain Military Park." Continue north through downtown Kings Mountain on Hwy. 216 until you see the "Iron Gate Gardens" signs on the left.

If you are going south on I-85, take exit 10B, "74 West, Kings Mountain - Shelby." Continue for about 2.5 miles to the third exit. It will read "Cherryville-Kings Mountain, Hwy 216." Turn right (north) at the exit onto Hwy. 216 and travel about eight miles. Our signs will be on the left.

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