Originally created 06/11/04

Hemerocallis society to meet, tour gardens

One day.

That's it.

The day lily - genus Hemerocallis, Latin for "beauty of the day" - spends falls and winters waiting to blossom.

When it does, it greets the sun with all its beauty for one full day, sunup to sundown, and then shrivels up and dies - hence its name: day lily.

Luckily, one of its fellow buds will open the next day to keep the cycle of beauty going.

This weekend, these colorful flowers will be the focal point for hundreds of members of the American Hemerocallis Society, in town for the Region 5 annual spring meeting.

Today and Saturday, patrons from throughout the Southeast will attend day lily auctions, meetings and hybridization speeches and will tour several personal gardens.

On Sunday, 10 gardens will be open to the public for viewing.

The Kardos garden on Fox Springs Road is one.

"Day lilies are one of my favorites because they perform so well. I have around 310 varieties," Reba Kardos said, walking by the daylily garden near her front steps. She's been spending a little extra time prepping her garden, breaking off yesterday's shriveled day lilies so as not to take away from the dynamism of the newly blossomed ones.

Mrs. Kardos' passion for day lilies began when she took one from her mother's Wrightsville, Ga., garden in 1968. The offspring of that plant continue to prosper amid other flowers, plants, woodpeckers and occasional blue herons in her rainforest of a back yard.

The 75-foot garden near the road in front of her house often slows traffic and joggers, who gaze in awe at the multicolored, waist-high showcase of day lilies intermixed with sunflowers and other perennials, surrounding 100 roses in the center.

"The people will be looking at the way the gardens are laid out, at other flowers and the overall picture - but definitely day lilies," she said.

With more than 1,200 varieties of day lilies, Daylily Society of Greater Augusta President John Kirkland's yard is almost covered in the flowers, with a few walking paths in between. A stopping point on the tour, Mr. Kirkland's garden has varieties he has been collecting since 1984.

"I just liked them. They're easy to grow, don't have many pests. They're something easy to handle," he said.

Cross-breeding them to create new colors also is easy for gardeners, Mr. Kirkland said, which is why there are more than 40,000 varieties. The John Kirkland variety, a melon-colored day lily with gold edges, was created in 1996.

Mr. Kirkland will be selling some of his day lilies during Sunday's tours, but not Mrs. Kardos. She gardens simply because she finds it relaxing and for the reward of seeing her day lilies in bloom.

"People enjoy my garden. I get a kick out of it," she said. "The best thing I did was put that garden by the road. That way, you share it."

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.


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