Bloom boom: Daylilies star in this year’s Garden Celebration

All of it started to avoid cutting the grass.

Bret Clement was sick of mowing along his back fence, and was searching for something to plant that would require little care. A friend suggested daylilies — the plants were easy, hardy and beautiful. Clement took the suggestion, placing a few of the plants along the fenceline.

“It was a solution to a landscape problem,” he said. “Over the course of maybe four or five years, I expanded that to include all of the back fence, and that summer, I realized I created something beautiful by accident.”

That initial planting has grown into a colorful and thriving business. Clement is the owner of Clement Daylily Gardens, which and specializes in hybridizing the plants into explosively colorful varieties.

He will share his passion and expertise with area gardeners during a presentation Saturday at this year’s Johnson County Garden Celebration. In addition to learning about daylilies, attendees can find out how to implement native plants into their gardens and find out more about growing roses.

Discover more about the shrubs and trees in your garden, and get to know rescued urban raptors that live in central Indiana.

This will be the 17th Garden Celebration, an annual event of the Johnson County Garden Club, Purdue Extension Johnson County and Purdue Master Gardeners. Vendors will be set up selling all kinds of different items related to the outdoors.

Seed packets and tree saplings will be given away while supplies last, and breakfast and lunch will be available for purchase at the Garden Cafe, featuring selections from Geri Girl Bakery in Edinburgh.

But the highlights each year are the diverse seminars and speakers that organizers line up, such as Clement.

After his initial foray into planting daylilies himself, Clement started doing research online on the different varieties and versions of the plant.

“I discovered the daylilies online were much more interesting than the ones that I had, and then I found out the mechanics of breeding daylilies were actually quite simple,” he said. “The trick is knowing what to breed to what, as opposed to knowing how to do it.”

Clement’s daylily garden has grown into approximately 1,000 registered varieties for hybridizing purposes in his own personal yard, as well as renting a tract of land approximately 45 minutes away where he grows additional registered varieties and many many thousands of seedlings which are grown under open-field conditions without mulch.

During the Garden Celebration, he plans to share slides of his introductions and seedlings, using his own hybrids to describe the differences in the plants and what the different types bring to a garden.

One of the reasons that he has found such joy in growing the plants is that nearly anyone can be successful with them.

“For the most part, they can be relatively disease-free. You don’t need a green thumb to grow them. While they thrive with a lot of moisture or fertilizer, even if you neglect them, they still do reasonably well,” he said. “There’s just so much variety.”

Clement’s presentation kicks off the seminars, but organizers have put together a well-rounded program touching on a variety of gardening topics.

Bob Bruner, a Purdue Extension educator from Clay and Owen counties, has put together a presentation on the care and maintenance of roses and rose cultivars.

To help people figure out ways to introduce native Indiana plants to their gardens, urban agriculture and natural resource educator Brooke Alford will provide guidance and answer questions.

Sara High, a forestry education specialist, will use the Department of Natural Resources Woods on Wheels mobile exhibit to teach about shrubs and trees in the garden.

Throughout the day, Andrea Quigley, education director for Providence Wildlife Rehabilitation, has set aside time to teach about urban raptors.

Seminar attendance qualifies for Purdue Master Gardener education hours.