Statesboro recently played host to a stunning display of award-winning hemerocallises. Though gardening enthusiasts may recognize that difficult-to-pronounce word, the rest of us may know the plant by its more common name, the daylily.
Accredited by the American Hemerocallis Society, the weekend event, held May 27-28, was hosted by the Ogeechee Daylily Society and the Savannah Hemerocallis Society and consisted of a judged daylily show on Friday and garden tours on Saturday.
The Ogeechee Daylily Society, serving Bulloch and Bryan counties, as well as a host of other area participants, meets monthly and holds a daylily show each May, but this is the first time Statesboro has hosted a regional show that included participants from all across Georgia.
Nikki Schmith, president of the American Hemerocallis Society, explained that Georgia daylily growers are so prolific that Georgia has its own region, Region 5.
"Georgia takes this very seriously," she said. "That's what makes me get on a plane from Illinois and come here. They're doing serious things here."
Some of those things, besides hybridizing new varieties, include cutting daylilies from gardens, carefully transporting them to a show to be judged and hopefully winning ribbons and prizes.
"It's a big deal to exhibit flowers, because you sacrifice it out of your garden for the show," Schmith said.
As the name implies, a daylily blooms for just one day, closing up at the end of that day, never to open again. So, exhibitors do not know the exact flower they'll showcase until the actual day of the show.
Growers watch for clues, however. Scott Elliott, president of the Ogeechee Daylily Society and top winner at the Statesboro show with his H."Ghost Ranger" cultivar, said he spotted the would-be winning flower two days before the exhibit.
"I was guessing," he said of his choice.
Elliott has between 3,000 and 4,000 daylily plants in his garden in Ellabell, and he now works full time selling the plants.
"I had to retire to afford the time to do it," he said.
He joked that he didn't make a lot of money, "just worked a lot." But he's passionate about his flowers and wins shows often.
Glennville grower Justin McLeod, who won Best Small Flower and Best Large Flower, is passionate about his daylilies, too, but he just grows them for fun, not to sell.
"It's just a hobby I'm into," he said.
McLeod has been growing the flowers since he was a teenager, when he visited Joiner Gardens in Savannah and became fascinated with the plant. He has between 80 and 90 different varieties of daylilies in his garden and said sharing them with others is his pleasure.
"I like to see as many people enjoy them as possible," he said. "They're beautiful."
The show was open to the public after the plants were judged, and participants toured various area gardens on Saturday, viewing daylilies in Ellabell, Pembroke, Pooler, Statesboro, Guyton and Black Creek.
To find out more about the shows or about taking part in a local daylily society, visit daylilies.org.