Debbie Arrington

Seeds: Daylilies and lavender give hope during dry summer

Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth holds its 19th annual Daylily Days on Saturday and Sunday.
Amador Flower Farm in Plymouth holds its 19th annual Daylily Days on Saturday and Sunday. Sacramento Bee file

Like our gardens, we’re adaptable. We’re getting used to our ongoing water diet. Our plants are coping with less irrigation while we’re trying to find the flowery lining to another summer of drought.

We don’t have to look far for reminders that even a dry summer can be filled with colors other than brown. And we don’t mean “gold” lawns.

Daylilies and lavender are two summer stars that lift our spirits and our senses. Both naturally are drought-tolerant while offering abundant blooms and almost nonstop color.

Both also are in the spotlight this month during special regional celebrations of these easy-care flowers.

Amador Flower Farm lives up to its name with its 19th annual Daylily Days this weekend, June 13-14. In Plymouth, in the heart of Amador wine country, the flower farm features 14 acres of gardens with more than 1,300 varieties of daylilies in a rainbow of hues from brilliant yellow to softest pink.

Literally, a million flowers greet visitors during Daylily Days, the farm’s largest annual event. And in keeping with this year’s weird weather, they started opening earlier than usual.

“There have been years with virtually no blooms by Memorial Day weekend, and then there’s this year,” said farm spokeswoman Leslie Sellman-Sant. “No doubt about it, the bloom has begun at the farm.”

Free tram tours will guide visitors through the growing grounds that roll over the farm’s tree-studded hills. Massive valley oaks, some more than 400 years old, offer shade for picnickers. Food vendors will be on hand to offer lunch, or patrons can bring their own picnic. (Leave Fido at home; no pets are allowed.)

Daylilies can withstand drought better than many other summer flowers. Their foliage may brown, but they readily bounce back with a little mulch and irrigation. Weekly watering is rewarded with abundant blooms. Once they start blooming, they keep going until the first freeze of winter. They’re also extremely heat-tolerant. Unlike some other showy summer bloomers, daylilies will flower in partial shade as well as full sun.

During Daylily Days, free hands-on demonstrations by master gardeners and the nursery’s own experts tackle popular gardening subjects, each with its own water-wise twist. Workshops feature how to plant your own culinary herb garden, make your own bonsai tree, create unique garden accents using water-wise succulents and, of course, daylily care. The schedule of events is posted on www.amadorflowerfarm.com.

“The focus this year … is helping gardeners navigate water challenges by relandscaping with water-wise plants and learning to water efficiently,” Sellman-Sant said.

The farm and its nursery are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the summer.

If you’re looking for scent as well as color, the Cache Creek Lavender Festival will fill your senses. This weekend, June 13-14, Cache Creek Lavender Farm in Rumsey opens its fields to visitors at the start of harvest with arts, crafts, music, food vendors as well as free lavender-spiked lemonade. Pick your own lavender and learn how to use it. Then, take some plants home to grow your own.

A Mediterranean favorite, lavender loves dry summer weather and low-water gardens. The plants need good drainage and thrive on heat. Lavender plants are more likely to die from too much water and poor drainage than from drought.

Want both daylilies and lavender? Maple Rock Gardens has a party for you. On June 27, the private Penryn garden will open its gates for its first Lavender and Daylilies Flower and Antique Festival.

Scott Paris, who owns High Hand Nursery in Loomis and makes his home at Maple Rock, planted hundreds of lavender plants along the road leading into his 30-acre property. His blooming lavender field is now ready to greet visitors with bright and fragrant bloom.

In addition, Maple Rock is hosting an international daylily competition with judges from across the country converging on the Penryn estate to evaluate its daylilies and rate their flowers including some very unusual varieties in rare color combinations.

Besides the flower show, visitors will have the opportunity to sample the farm’s mostly lavender honey produced by its own bees and taste its fresh peaches. Antique vendors will offer their collectibles. Lavender and succulent plants will be for sale, too. Of course, patrons will get a chance to tour Maple Rock, considered one of the outstanding private gardens in the Sacramento area.

Tickets available at High Hand Nursery, $10 (includes parking); Maple Rock Gardens, 100 Clark Tunnel Road, Penryn; www.highhandnursery.com.

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