More ‘wild’ daylily plantings would be green movement
Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
In researching the microfilm files last week for the “25 Years Ago” column, I happened to see the “Garden Path” from that yesteryear. It was on the common “wild” daylily people sometimes erroneously call “tiger lily.”
At the time I was preparing a bed on our east line for a planting of them, to be collected from a roadside. (Go and do likewise, if the fancy suits you, and don’t feel guilty. You pay your road taxes and they are so prolific there is no danger of depleting them.)
There mine remain in that bed to this day, though now hemmed in with other things. They are blooming as we speak, and have been since late May. They serve well in taking up a piece of poor ground that was, before, given to bermuda grass and not much else.
Our “ditch lilies” (they do prefer ditches) are Hemerocallis fulva, the tawny daylily, and, strangely enough, considering their proliferation, aren’t natives in the USA at all, but instead, of Europe.
Another oddity is the fact they are totally sterile, producing no seeds. All the untold millions of them gracing roadsides over virtually all the eastern U.S. have been produced from root expansion and spreading of roots by wending water and cultivation, intended or otherwise, by man and beast.
For instance, as maintainers mow and grade rural roadsides, the roots are disturbed and spread some distance, even a far distance, away.
Then there are people like me who intentionally move some. Even wild animals and birds can move pieces of root around. So, there are the vast acres of them you are seeing now.
If any of the powers that be in our upper echelon of road management had the imagination of a turtle they could see that a quick and cheap method of beautifying our highways and biways would be to simply encourage more ditch lilies.
This would require no expensive landscape architect, no staff of designers, and no expertise in horticulture. It seems to me that a machine like that used to chop up and blow straw onto newly seeded areas could be utilized to do the same thing with ditch lily roots. Simply feed them into the grinder-blower and cover banks and ditches as the pieces are scattered by the blower.
But how to harvest the nest eggs? Well, say we take some of our inmates out of their air conditioned cells and libraries for a little exercise each day in digging clumps of them from the prolific stands extant thither and yon.
The ACLU would probably protest, as is their wont when atheists and other downtrodden (they perceive) are persecuted, but I think it could be arranged. Labor cost for harvesting: zip, except for the daily cost of keeping up the malefactors in the first place.
The pieces of root would quickly take hold and knit together in short order into a virtually impenetrable thicket that would thwart even bermuda grass. If, perchance, some tree sprouts or other strongmen should invade, a single yearly mowing in late summer would suffice. No more incessant grass mowing, using untold millions of gallons of gasoline and wearing out tractors and bush-hogs. The procedure would be a green movement for sure.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 6.21.11
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path