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Daylily business to host 'Bloomin' Bash'

July 03, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. -- Lisa Giles is slowing motorists on Giles Mill Road in southern Berkeley County again this summer -- one blooming daylily at a time.

With more than 350 varieties of the perennial on the verge of reaching peak bloom, the distraction for drivers is a palette of floral beauty.

"People drive by real slow and stop and look ... it does slow down the traffic on our road," Giles said, laughing as one driver turned around in a driveway across from the field of flowers.

"The experience," as Giles describes the colorful bloom at her home, is the central focus of the first "Bloomin' Bash" festival, planned for July 11, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at her business, Hillbilly Daylilies.

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The daylong festival at 1105 Giles Mill Road will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Eastern Panhandle and will feature several workshops for adults on such topics as growing a kitchen herb garden, native plants, composting and backyard pollinators.

Live bluegrass music, antique tractors and steam engines, and garden projects for children also will be part of the event.

"I really do plan to turn this into an annual event," Giles said.

Giles said she began planning the first festival about a year ago with goals of giving back to the community through donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters, providing people with an opportunity to obtain educational information about gardening, as well as supporting her business.

"There really aren't any garden festivals (in the area)," Giles said.

Giles, a master gardener, began planting the daylilies on a one-acre field next to the home she shares with her husband, Steve, in the spring of 2005. She opened for business in 2006.

The daylilies are surrounded by an electric fence that keeps deer from eating them.

"Daylilies are the perfect perennial," Giles said. "They don't require a lot of pampering."

They tolerate drought conditions, are pest- and disease-resistant and can grow in various soils, Giles said.

"One of my favorites (daylily varieties) are 'spiders,'" Giles said. "To be a spider ... the petals have to be five times longer than they are wide."

"This is only a drop in the bucket," Giles said of the flowers she has planted in 6-foot beds. "There's over 50,000 registered varieties of daylilies. They're really not scarce, it's just you don't see this many in one place. It's a niche around here."

"People, when they get here, it just changes people's moods, they're happy," Giles said of her garden. "Most people, when they see it, they're just in awe because they didn't realize there were this many daylilies and that I was here."

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture in May 2009 announced that Hillbilly Daylilies was awarded a $4,000 "specialty crops" grant for a research project to develop and demonstrate a growing technique that can sustain and improve the viability of daylilies and enhance the market competitiveness of the horticultural crop yearround.

Giles said she hopes to be able to expand her business with the addition of a "coldframe," which she described as a greenhouse that isn't heated, but will hold enough heat to keep potted daylilies alive in adverse weather conditions.

If you go ...



What: Bloomin' Bash

When: July 11, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Hillbilly Daylilies, 1105 Giles Mill Road, Bunker Hill, W.Va.

Cost: $5; free for children 5 and younger

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