May 29, 2012 01:35PM
● By Anonymous
For a gardener, much of the reward for the meticulous and laborious pursuit of horticulture is the emerging and fleeting beauty of the plants and flowers. But there is another pleasure; sharing your garden with others. For one summer’s day, Faith Bange opens her Davidsonville garden to hundreds of visitors. Last year, there were more than 200 admirers who came between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., most of them strangers. Many came to see her daylilies at their prime, while the Annapolis Watercolor Club came to paint. The preparations are exhaustive. Six-hour days are spent planting, watering, and weeding. The night before, Bange and her friends pick off all the dead blooms, remove any stray weeds, and make certain the plants are well-watered. And from the start of the next day through late afternoon, visitors are able to stroll about the garden admiring the multitude of daylilies, along with hostas, hydrangeas, winging migration, echinaceas, boxwoods, and stately trees.
Bange’s interest in gardening sprouted from her aunt. “She was the only one who had ever given a hoot about plants,” she says. Her aunt’s home had a lovely garden, however not nearly as extravagant as Bange’s today. “Fay”, as Bange’s friends call her, looked up to her aunt for multiple reasons; she was a professional secretary, which was also Fay’s occupation, and she was well liked. “She was like a little model to me,” says Fay, which explains how even a small, simple garden inspired her to begin the hobby of gardening.
Bange started her own small garden at her previous home in Bowie. Daylilies have always been her specialty and when moving to Davidsonville in 1984 to build a more spacious home, her daylily garden was definitely kept in mind. But it was the Moonlight Orchid Daylily that encouraged Faith to take her small garden to the next level. After seeing the flower bloom in so many different ways, she began to expand her planting efforts and, 10 years later, has created a space worthy of sharing with fellow garden enthusiasts. On a 1.6-acre lot, three fourths of an acre have now been gardened, boasting 1,100 daylilies of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.
According to Bange, it is all about trial and error when it comes to gardening, “Some flowers work in the sun, some in the shade, and others need some of both.” The chore of picking off old blooms from each and every plant never stops. The red, yellow, purple, green, and orange dye from the flowers she nurtures stains her hands but her thumb is most definitely green. “It’s a battle. There are deer, rabbits, weeds, mold, and more,” she says with a smile. She looks about her garden with its colors and textures and says, “It’s like being an artist, a painter. I use my creativity to create all of this.” Now retired, Bange has more time to spend ordering new plants through the National Capital Daylily Club, for which Bange is the secretary. And not just for personal enjoyment but also to test which plants do and don’t work in various conditions, in order to pass this knowledge on to other club members.
Bange says she has three daylilies that are particularly significant to her. First is the Smith Brothers Daylily, which is likely named after Smith Brothers Cough Drops because of its coloring; the flower is blackish red with a yellow center. The second, an orange daylily, is called Primal Scream and it has won the Stout Silver Medal (in 2003), which is the highest award given to a cultivar by the American Hemerocallis Society for daylily flowers. The third is a pink daylily with crinkled yellow trim and named the Elvis Daylily after Elvis Presley, which once sold for upwards of $700 at a national convention auction.
Bange’s husband, Jerry, also has an interest in flowers and agriculture. Although he started out as a club member purely to support his wife, he is currently president of the National Capital Daylily Club and in the past couple of years has started hybridizing the flower. Hybridizing is when a cultivar crossbreeds two different flowers to make a new one. “Hybridizers for years have been trying to make a blue daylily; whoever does that will be famous,” says Fay. But every crossbreed is not successful. “They need a pretty face, good branching, and foliage,” she notes. “One also needs to keep them for a while to see if the plant will maintain their characteristics.”
Once again this summer, the Banges plan to open their garden; likely on a Saturday this coming July. They look forward to sharing their garden with others and inspiring them to achieve a stunning healthy garden of their own. Says Fay, “It’s my way of giving back to humanity.”
On June 23rd, Fay will open her garden up to the public. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and all visitors are invited.
The National Capital Daylily Club is a nonprofit organization that promotes daylilies through education and demonstration. They welcome daylily enthusiasts of all levels and volunteers to help with activities in addition to regular gardeners in the metropolitan area. For more information about the club and the specific date of the garden open house, visit the club’s website at daylilyclub.org.