In 2004, Jeff and Carolyn Brody came back to live on the farm where Carolyn grew up in the Kuusamo District south of Sylvan Lake.
The property had been rented out for 30 years and was not in good shape. It took them three years and many hours of labour to get the property back to what they considered a livable condition.
During this time, Jeff continued to work as a nurse in Red Deer and Carolyn commuted to Olds College to take horticultural courses, graduating with a diploma in crop production, field and greenhouse, as well as a journeyman certificate in landscape gardening.
By the time Carolyn graduated from Olds, she recognized that her passion was in growing plants, field production.
They were experimenting with a number of crops, trying to decide what direction they should concentrate their efforts.
In 2010, they went to Innisfail to buy a trailer that they needed for the farm and came away with the trailer and a daylily business, which consisted of 60 varieties and hundreds of plants.
Over the course of a few weeks, all the plants were dug and replanted in production fields at their farm.
It wasn’t long until the Brodys were smitten with daylilies and decided to concentrate their efforts in that direction.
They found that daylilies were easy to grow and were available in all sizes and colours.
Carolyn often tells people, “If you can grow grass you can grow daylilies, but daylilies are way prettier.”
Knowing that 60 varieties were not enough, Carolyn continued to purchase more varieties of registered daylilies from garden centres and growers.
In 2012, they bought Parkland Perennials’ daylily collection, giving them the largest collection of hardy daylilies in Alberta.
Carolyn is always on the lookout for registered varieties. These she trials to make sure they will thrive in the climate before offering them to customers.
Presently, Gablehouse Farm and Gardens is home to over 375 registered varieties of daylilies.
Registered varieties are chosen out of respect for the work that has gone into developing them and with the knowledge that for a plant to become registered, it must undergo vigorous testing.
Carolyn’s advice is for gardeners to remove the old tawny daylilies and replace them with brighter, vibrant varieties. Varieties that she sells come in many colours, shades, sizes and shapes.
To get the most out of daylilies, plant in a area with loose, rich soil. They will grow in some shade but produce more flowers if they have more than six hours of direct sunlight a day.
If a daylily is not blooming and is in a sunny location, remove soil from around the roots. The eyes of the tubers should never be deeper than 1.5 inches (three to four cm) below the surface.
The long-term goal is to establish strong farm sales but until that is accomplished, Gablehouse Farm and Gardens will continue to be a weekly fixture at the Red Deer Public Market on Saturday mornings in Red Deer and Market on Main Street on Thursday nights in Rocky Mountain House.
Starting the first part of August, Gablehouse Farm and Gardens will be open to visitors by appointment. Carolyn will take people through the garden and let them chose their daylily from the growing beds. The plants will be dug, ready to take home with you.
To learn more about daylilies sign up for the free workshop at the gardens on Aug. 9 from 10 to noon.
Go to http://www.gablehousefarmandgardens.ca/ to learn more.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.