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Daylilies Delight Carol Robinson

Carol's cat, Dexter with one of the seedlings she is growing. When a seedling shows superior qualities, the hybridizer gives it a name.

Carol Robinson learned to love gardens and working outdoors from her mother. A native Floridian, she grew up in the Land of Lakes/Lutz area. Though she has a stressful full time job and battles both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, she has a dream that she is making come true in her own yard: Daylily Delights Nursery.

Her husband James is both a great help and a great encourager. He built raised beds along both sides of the front yard with landscaping timbers for sides. Carol has marked each section by letter and each plant with a permanent label. The mature plants get metal ones. The seedlings are marked by pieces of window blinds on which she writes the information and dates with a permanent marking pen. She sticks these down until they are almost buried in the soil, so they are much less likely to be lost.

The Robinsons haul soil from Cypress Creek Landscape Supply on Florida Ave. She checks the feel and smell to be sure it contains plenty of pinebark. Daylilies like that.

"They will grow in our sandy soil, but the more mulch, pinebark, and loving care you give them, the better they grow and the more they bloom," she says. "They can be very low maintenance in the home garden, but since I'm trying to be a professional, I have to work harder."

Although the daylily flowers last only a day, each scape or leafless flower stalk has many buds and each crown can have many scapes, so the average plant blooms at least two or three weeks. Some are rebloomers. Some are fragrant, some are not.

Carol Robinson caught the daylily obsession from one of James's cousins who belongs to the Daylily Society in Lake City. They now are members of the Bay Area Daylily Society and the American Hemerocallis Society. The first meets on the third Sunday of every month from September through May from 1:30 to 3 pm. For more information call Linda Sample 813-831-8294 or through glsample@verizon.net or check their website at www.bads.us.

Carol Robinson can tell by the feel and smell of the soil she buys if it is what her dayliles are going to like.

With other members Carol visited the greenhouse of Frank Smith in Apopka, Florida, who grows daylilies for Disney and Seelys Ark in Dunellon where rabbits and worms work together to produce rich worm castings that are very good in daylily soil.

Daylilies need 6 to 8 hours of unfiltered sunlight a day. Some, partcularly the reds, do best with partial shade in the afternoon.

By planting early, midseason, and late varieties, one can have bloom in Florida from April through September and even October.

The daylily itself, known botanically as Hemerocallis, is an old flower used by the Chinese people before written history, the flowers buds for food and the root and crown for medicine to relieve pain.

Many of us remember them growing as a summer perennial up north. The fragrant, bright yellow lemon lilies were a sure sign that spring had come. And the tawny orange ones escaped to the roadsides where they bloomed in great profusion. These were some of the ancestors of the new hybrid that started with Arlow Burdette Stout in the early 1930s.

Robinson has already started to hybridize new varieties herself. Her nursery is now officially open for sales, but customers must call--H681-7906 or C493-9153- and make an appointment after her work or on weekend days. She can also be reached at daylilydelights@yahoo.com.

In the home garden, deadheading (removing spent flowers) is important to keeping the beds looking neat. But don't do it in a hybridizer's bed because those spent flowers are marked for special crosses and seed development. Once a cross is made and taking, that plant will not be for sale this year.

Blooms are just starting for the season. 'Wisest of Wizards' is one of her early bloomers.