New Day Gardens
So What Is New Day Gardens
New Day Gardens is a backyard, one woman, hobby nursery specializing in Daylilies, Iris, and other perennials that provide color in the harsh climate garden.
New Day Gardens Gifts is an online Zazzle store with products featuring the garden and nature photography of New Day Gardens Owner and hybridizer, Debra Scott.
This lens will tell you more about how Debra got the hybridizing (plant breeding) and collecting addiction which eventually led to the start of New Day Gardens.
How I Became a Gardener
I have always loved sinking my fingers into the earth. I honestly cannot remember ever being without a garden. My parents always had vegetable gardens. I remember helping to weed the huge garden my dad made at my grandmother's place when I wasn't more than four years old. We must have grown almost every vegetable and fruit that we ate in those years. I remember my mother freezing bags and bags of veggies. Dad went hunting & fishing for meat. At one point we had to rent freezer space at a public freezer facility.
In later years we had a smaller garden at home. In fact that garden is still in the same corner of the yard and my mother still grows her veggies in it nearly 50 years later.
I would help Mom start her tomatoes and squash indoors every year. I remember distinctly the year that I asked to buy and start flower seeds. I was sixteen years old. It seemed it was the first time my mother allowed herself the luxury of growing something for beauty instead of to eat. It was like a revelation to her that she never forgot. Ever since that day she has tended both flower and vegetable gardens for the joy of it.
Over the years I learned that both of my grandmothers gardened extensively with flowers, one even hybridized a few iris. I also learned that previous generations had been farmers. I guess you could say that loving to feel the earth between my fingers is more or less a genetic thing for me. It is in my heritage and consequently in my blood.
When I had my first place "of my own" I began collecting flowers as well as vegetable gardening. I developed an extensive collection of rhododenrons and roses, both of which perform well in Western Washington. During those years I learned many propagation techniques, soil preparation, and general garden maintenance, largely self-taught.
How I Became A Garden Photographer
I first began photographing garden subjects at the age of five. Garden photography has been a life-long passion. My grandmother's friend had come to visit us from Australia. She let me take a couple of pictures with her camera and then gave me the resulting photos. After that I saved up Dilly Bar wrappers from Dairy Queen to purchase my first camera. It should not have been a surprise that I'd love photography. My grandparents had been very active in a camera club during the 1930s and 1940s. My dad had also learned to enjoy photography from them. What I think did surprise them was the passion that I had for it.
I took photography and darkroom classes in junior high school, high school, and college. I was first publish in a book at age 17. However, my parents were the sort that didn't understand it was possible to make a living at "art" so they would not support my attending the Brooks Instutute of Photography. Instead I was encouraged to pursue an education & work that would be "practical"- I studied and took up Electronics Engineering for a career. I was well suited for a career in technology too but I continued to pursue my love of photography. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I realized that my true love was for "garden & nature" photography.
Well, now the combination of technology & photography are blended with digital photography and websites being the norm among photographers. Wow, things have certainly changed over the years. It turns out that both backgrounds are very helpful.
It took a long time
Twelve years to be exact, for me to learn how to garden in the Northern Colorado climate. You see, having grown up in the mild and rainy climate of Western Washington I was not prepared for the arid conditions, poor soil and bitter winters of the high plains.
In Washington, gardens didn't need to be planned like they do in Colorado. Irrigation systems were rarely used because there is plenty of rain. Keeping plants from drowning is more of a concern that keeping them watered. Not so in Colorado where irrigation is a mandatory part of any garden...and irrigation systems take planning. You have to know where your beds are going to be, where your lawn is going to be, and where your walkways and patios will be so that you can dig the irrigation lines before you ever start anything else.
Some of my favorite flowering plants that thrive in the mild Pacific Northwest would die outright in the first Colorado winter. If it wasn't the cold that killed them, then the alkalinity of the soil, or the desicating dryness of winter would do the job.
Eventually I began to discover perennial flowers that would take the place of my beloved azaleas, rhododendrons, and hybrid tea roses of every kind.
Through the years of experimenting I discovered that daylilies and iris are among the best performers here in Colorado. I also learned that certain old roses are hardy enough for this climate and that peonies, chrysanthemum, echinacea, certain asiatic lilies, lilacs, flowering almond, certain forsythia, artemesia, and salvia thrive here. Gradually I began to envision a garden that would provide the colors I long for.
When I finally felt ready to garden for real in Colorado it began with designing my landscape. I actually hired a designer to lay out the "bones" of the garden- the lawns, the walkways, the patio...the general shape and flow of things. She also had added a vision for plantings but most of it was low maintenance shrubbery that I would never be happy with. She really did not take the time to understand my gardening tastes or style so the plantings for the most part were not something I intended to follow. What her plans did help me with was how to lay out the irrigation system. I knew where there would be lawn & flower beds.
With the plan in hand I went to several landscape companies for quotes and quickly decided this was going to be a "do it yourself" job. The quotes I received were outlandish and the soil preparation that they planned to do would not sustain a perennial garden.
A friend came over after his day job to do the heavy work. I helped where I could. It took several years to turn the design into a layout ready for planting. But then, it was like "insta-garden". Once the water system was working and the sod was laid, the only thing left to do was to fill the garden beds with plants.
Discovering A Passion
There's nothing that stirs up a gardener's passions like a landscape full of empty flower beds ready to be planted! It was November of 2007 and I was eager to buy plants to fill up those empty beds. I started by visiting some online garden forums that I had visited in prior years. I thought perhaps I could find some people willing to trade or give away plants for postage.
My first stop was The Garden Web and since I was interested in irises and daylilies I went to the forums on those topics. Well, someone on the daylily forum introduced me to hybridizing- "you mean I could make my own plants for free?"- hot dog that would be fun. Then someone else introduced me to the Lily Auction- a place where I could bid on seeds and plants and if lucky, bring some fantastic plants home for lower costs.
That was it, I was hooked. I spent the rest of that winter researching how to breed daylilies and that soon extended to irises. I won 65 new to me daylilies and 800 daylily seeds in auctions. I reasoned that since I didn't have any mature daylilies in the garden to breed with at least I could learn how to germinate seeds and grow seedlings.
I did have a few iris that were given to me that I could use to learn about hybridizing those plants the following spring.
I also learned about the societies: the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS), the American Iris Society, the Historic Iris Preservation Society, and found that there was a local iris & daylily club in my area. I joined them all in 2008. By this time I also knew that I wanted to go into the nursery business.
In 2009 my obsession took another turn. A friend from the local club who had cared for a large display garden passed away suddenly. That spring his widow asked the club for help in disposing of the hundreds of plants in the display garden. I made her an offer and found myself the instant owner of the largest collection of named daylilies in Northern Colorado. The collection consisted of over 300 varieties of daylilies and over 100 varieties of irises.
Of course, the catch with having a large collection of plants is that you need enough land to grow them on. Not only do named-varieties take space but seedlings under evaluation take a large amount of space over several years of evaluation. My city lot did not provide the space I need. I began looking for affordable land with irrigation, a major challenge in Colorado. In the meantime, my collection was spread out over not only my own land but also plots at two different community gardens. Due to the non-profit status of the community gardens, I was unable to sell stock grown in those gardens for profit.
My big break came in 2015 when I met a special dairy farmer in Minnesota. Romance sparked and I was soon looking for land in Minnesota where I found a wonderful farm to continue my passion. In 2016 I began the arduous task of moving my home and gardens "up north".
Time will tell how many of my daylilies and irises from Colorado survive their new climate in Minnesota where they receive more water than they did in Colorado but also must tolerate a full zone colder winter.
I continue to collect newer hybrids primarily for hybridizing and future resale as well as to breed for northern hardy varieties.
- Garden Fever
Pam in Austin, Texas describes how garden fever begins with a fresh bed ready to be planted.