It all started a few years ago. More precisely, on July 24th 2003. The official birthday of Artemesia Daylilies.
A trip to Alain’s mother in Trois-Rivières, precipitated the whole journey. During the visit of a daylily grower, Al turned around and said: “Why don’t we too grow daylilies commercially?” Of course, I totally jumped on the idea. We had similar field-growing conditions in Priceville, acres to grow and expand, and a greenhouse to start seedlings.
A few hundreds of varieties later and an addictive hobby (mainly) under control, we set up shop, live and on-line. Although we really loved the day-to-day operation of the gardens, the maintenance alone of large-scale display beds, production field and potted area took every single minute of our free time. Imagine having to continuously weed 92 40-foot beds!
Through this hobby gone wild, we have had, and still have, the pleasure and privilege of meeting countless amazing people (now friends) from all walks of life, from the greenest of gardeners to the real seasoned ones. Having been invited to many horticultural societies, we could spread the daylily gospel about the ABC’s of growing this stunning and sturdy plant, division techniques and the newest and hottest in this always-evolving field. Frills, teeth, double edges, blue flowers? Name it, we’ve got it!
Of course, with all this amazing genetic pool, we had to try our luck at hybridizing, waking up early to get to the flowers before the bees had a chance to! After growing thousands of seedlings, we were fortunate enough to select a few for introduction. FYI, for every 1,000 seedlings grown, only 2 or 3 might be of registration quality. All planets have to be lined up for something desirable (in our humble eyes) to come up.
All this was great, but the pull of the city was strong. We looked at houses in Toronto and were ready to relocate. Then Al, tirelessly sifting through MLS listings, saw a lovely house for sale in the Beaver Valley. Well, that sealed out fate. No more Toronto. We then went for a visit and instantly fell in love with the property, even under 5 feet of snow! What a gorgeous area. So, we made an offer and the rest is history. We now proudly call Beaver Valley HOME. The community’s warm welcome truly made us feel special, as a business and individuals.
But those daylilies had to follow. So, in May 2014, we started selecting amongst the thousands of seedlings and the 1,400 varieties we had been collecting for years. With limited growing space, only 675 made the cut; we had to narrow it down to the best growers and the most stunning flowers. (Really, how many yellow varieties can someone grow?!) The task that was supposed to take 6 weeks (we thought, so naively) ended up taking 6.5 months! ARRRRGGGHHHH! R & R, for most, means “Rest & Relaxation”. For us, it was “Rocks & Roots”! Welcome to the Valley, boys! Klonk! Keep digging! We finished in October, planting the last chosen ones knees deep in snow. “They’re in the ground, they’re safe”, we thought…
Then came Spring 2015. During the building phase of our reno project, we came to supervise progress on a daily basis. To our delight, daylilies were coming out of dormancy, their tender leaves shyly emerging from the relative safety of their beds. Yippee! None have died.
Well well well. We showed up one morning and (GASP!!!) all plants had been chewed down to nothing! Nothing! No need to explain to our Valley neighbours that the deer did quite a number on the plants! But don’t worry, this open salad bar season is short-lived; they move on to better food sources. The plants kicked right back, the first blooms appeared on time and gardeners started showing up. Well worth the time and energy to set this all up.
Fast-forward to 2018. Our beds are already mulched and weeded, and plants showcase new labels, wayyyy ahead of our usual schedule. Great! Now we can focus on our actual landscaping around the house. Since we went with a modern design tied to a traditional yellow-brick structure, the choice of material and flow have to echo the surroundings, and stay true to contrast in design, i.e. using texture, and repetition to create patterns and movement. Are we up to the task? We’ll see in a few months. (It’s quite exciting actually, a slight departure from our usual landscaping comfort zone.)
When driving by, if you see a car in the driveway, come on up to say hi, have a coffee (or a G &T!), admire our daylilies, ask burning gardening questions or browse in the barn to find the perfect cowhide, all under the watchful eyes of our three cats.
Hope to see you soon!
Alain and Jocelyn