Wild and wooly garden days

Ajania pacifica (Pacifica Mum), one of the last blooming plants in the garden.

I’m working on a talk I’m giving to my local daylily group this weekend. When they asked me earlier this summer, they said I could talk on any subject I wanted–a dangerous proposition for someone so talkative to be sure–but I appreciate their confidence. Talks take a lot of time and thought before coming to fruition.

Echinacea purpurea, which now reseeds throughout the garden with Hemerocallis 'Thunder and Lightning'
Echinacea purpurea, which now reseeds throughout the garden with Hemerocallis ‘Thunder and Lightning’

You see, I’m not all about daylilies at my house. I love so many plants, and the sweet genus Hemerocallis only blooms so long. We need other plants to fill our days and garden beds when daylilies don’t bloom. You can insert any other group of plants for which you have a passion. I’ve come to realize, after indulging in way too many love affairs with various genera, it’s probably best for us and the environment if we’re never all about any “one” thing. Only growing roses, grasses, daylilies, tulips, or daffodils is also a bit boring. Don’t you think?

Hemerocallis ‘Blue Pink Beauty’ looks good against the fence and grass behind her.

You can do this and complement your beloveds. Daylilies in particular seem to love sharing space with grasses, roses, vines, bulbs and other beautiful plants. They even like natives, and the native plants like them.

Acer palmatum ‘Sango kaku’ in full fall regalia.

I hope I encourage some of my daylily friends to break up their borders of hem goodness and fill them with additional plants that bloom during other seasons and feed the small creatures in our wild spaces too.

For that is what gardens are . . . wild spaces of danger and delight, and when we get over wanting to control our small ecosystem with a lawn mower, clippers and other things, we find we are looking at a wild and wooly universe at our fingertips–full of small, daily battles of waged by tiny creatures upon each other and sometimes, our plants.

The insects sip nectar or chew holes in leaves and flower, then fight each other and die. Birds and lizards eat insects and are sometimes eaten themselves by larger predators. Especially at night, the garden is full of mystery and mayhem.

Panicum virgatum, probably ‘Heavy Metal’

Lately, Oklahoma afternoons have been as sweet as that first strawberry on spring tongues. Our days dawn cold, and I pull on a soft and warm jacket to walk the paths of my own small habitat. I can’t do much to change the course of human events, but I find my contributions to our family, my church, our pets, Maddie, Tap and Sophie, and even the small creatures close to the Earth and the birds of the air matter. Let’s hope each of us will be missed when we are gone.

The woods are nearly leafless now. We’ll soon be traveling through winter.

As I ponder these things, I put bird seed in the feeder. I check on the chickens, gather their eggs and throw them some corn in return. I break off the tender stalks of mums that perished in the first freeze.The wild and woolly wind ruffles my hair, and I realize I’m blessed to see another day. Another day that I can share with you.


  1. RobinL says:

    Well, I suppose I could give my daylilies another chance. The drought this year was not kind to them, and they just plain looked awful. In a fit of pique, I torn off the foliage, but they forgave me and came back looking better. I vowed to only grow the most drought tolerant of plants from now on, and I don’t really think daylilies always qualify for that. But we’ll see what next year brings.

  2. So Dee’s giving a “talk” on daylillies, better bring a soft chair and a mini-six pack of Corona in a cooler and don’t plan to share? Good advice from one who has gotten to know you the last three years. I admire you for paying it forward with a freebie. Takes just as much work.

    I’m going to tease you a little and tell you at the bottom of my last post is a personal shout out you are sure to enjoy.

    Best, my dear friend.

  3. Gail says:

    Daylilies were my first love and they have a special place in my heart, but they cannot be the only plant in my garden. Same with wildflowers, they need shrubs and annuals and all manner of wonderful beauties to make our hearts sing! Your garden makes my heart sing and inspires me to think beyond my self imposed limits. xoxogail

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Gail. I completely agree with you. A garden is made of many plants and helps the creatures who live there.

  4. Rose says:

    What a lovely and thoughtful post, Dee! As much as I love daylilies, I agree that diversity is best, besides the fact that I like to have something always in bloom. Since I tend to plant in “drifts of one”, that isn’t too much of a problem here:)

    I agree that we can’t all change the world, but we can all make our own little world a better place for all the creatures that inhabit it.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Rose. I also think diversity is best. I also plant in drifts of “one” so I have similar challenges. I’ve been trying to buy threes this year.~~Dee

  5. commonweeder says:

    You are so right when you talk about welcoming diversity in our gardens, even if we have a special love. Happily I think most of us can hardly avoid doing this because we want longer seasons of bloom or just fall in love with a friend’s garden and plant selection. Planting for pollinators is a way can all serve our environment – beautifully. You covered a lot of ground today – beautifully.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I think you might be right Pat. I still see long rows of only daylilies or gardens of simply roses. The latter especially doesn’t work well in our climate.

  6. The longer I garden, the less I favor one plant over the other. I like them all. 🙂 It’s the entire organic ecosystem I’ve created that is my favorite. I’m not interested in just one instrument. I like the whole symphony. 🙂

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Me too. I’m totally interesting in the entire system.

  7. Les says:

    Dee, you certainly have a gift with words, and this post was a delight to read.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Les. I try.

  8. Dee I have found I do not have a fav plant anymore after planting all the natives. I love them all and what they bring to my small habitat-critters. I too hope my legacy is to provide a wonderful place for critters to feel at home.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Donna, I think I’m the same way. As we lose more habitat in fields near my home, I find I’m saving more and natives. I can’t stand for them to succumb to the bull dozer.

  9. Hi Dee, Even though your title is wild and wooly you gave soft and endearing thoughts about the garden. It is that time of year that we have time to think more about the garden and the denziens there in. I hardly have a favorite plant in the garden any more. It seems that my interest has shifted to shrubs and trees. It is interesting how our tastes change over the years. I wish I could hear the talk you will give to your hermocallis group.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Lisa. I was feeling particularly thoughtful that day I suppose. 🙂 I like how your interest has shifted. What an interesting area to ponder. I have also added lots of shrubs and small trees to my garden over the years. I need that winter interest.

  10. Love your idea of encouraging gardeners to plant for the critters. Sometimes they can be annoying. I’ve been stung by far too many ungrateful bees 🙂 but all in all it’s worth it…

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Kate, I get stung by wasps, and sometimes I have to go nuclear on them because they are so pesky. However, I don’t bother them in the garden. They seem peaceful as they sip nectar. However, occasionally, they’ll set up a nest, and watch out!

  11. CurtissAnn says:

    Darling woman, what a gift you give us with this post. And, not surprising, I read it at just the right time for me. Your words help me to see into a dimness of questions for myself. Each of us matter, each of us sustain the other. Thank you for that reminder. Oh, my heart has yearned for Oklahoma of late. Just a trip. But it does not seem possible. I miss you.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Curtiss Ann, I miss you terribly. I want to sit and hold your hand, but I’ll just have to give you a call again.~~Dee

  12. Aw, what a sweet post. I’m feeling a bit melancholy, too, lately. I think the transitions between the seasons are the hardest…at least for me.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Definitely, the transition from fall to winter is very hard for a lot of us. Hang in there. Spring is just around winter’s corner.

  13. Carol says:

    Ah, that was sweet. So glad you shared yourself and this post today.

  14. Robin Ripley says:

    The woodland path is beautiful. Isn’t fall a gorgeous time?

  15. Frances says:

    Diversity is the way Nature does it, and we should follow her lead. My daylily hill also contains daffodils, grasses, shrubs and ferns along with Sedums, asters, hellebores…too many to name. I love your woodland walk, would love to join you with a soft and cozy jacket, maybe hot tea afterwards.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I wish you could join me there Frances. What a charming conversation we’d have.

  16. Jason says:

    To me limiting myself to one plant or even one genus is unimaginable. There are so many great plants out there! Lovely post.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      That’s for sure Jason. Thank you for stopping by.

  17. Cindy, MCOK says:

    This was a lovely post, Dee. Monoculture, in gardens and in life, limits possibilities … I’d much rather expand them!

  18. Deanne says:

    Lovely post Dee. I’m in total agreement with you about diversity in the borders. Over the last eight years I’ve begun adding dwarf conifers and deciduous blooming shrubs to the borders along with the grasses and perennials. The shrubs add so much to the winter landscape and winters last a long time up here!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Deanne. I love conifers too. It’s hard to find many that stand up to our heat though. Phooey! Oh, but blooming shrubs, there are so many good ones.

  19. Sonia Kirk says:

    I have been enjoying our fabulous fall weather here in OKC…everything is beautiful in your garden..I’m hoping a freeze is a few weeks away! Happy Fall!
    Miss Bloomers

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you so much Sonia. I have too.

  20. I agree with you on not having single plant beds, mixing it up is far more attractive. We had a speaker program that talked about companion plants for hostas. Ideas of combos for the garden is always a good topic.
    Love your Coral bark maple. I have one about that size as well. I am surprised at the whip-like branches that shoot out. They are not waterspouts. Not sure why this year it sent out so many whips. Any idea?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Janet, you’re so right. Those branches do whip out of nowhere. I occasionally prune them back when they mess up the crown. I prune them all the way to the branch’s node. As for why, I have no idea. I think some plants are just wired that way. It could also be stressed I suppose.

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