GardenWalk Cleveland features daylily explosion in West Park

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House tours, popular this time of year, can leave you feeling like a window shopper, longing for more money and more luck to have that house, that view, that furniture.   Garden tours, like the ones this weekend during GardenWalk Cleveland, are different.  They show what’s possible for anyone with a little plot of earth, some plants, a lot of sweat and, above all, patience.  Ideastream’s Amy Eddings visited one West Park participant who's got a passion for daylilies.   

Eddings: “More daylilies than you can count.”  That’s the way the Gardenwalk’s guide describes stop number D3 on Chatfield Avenue.  It did little to prepare me for the visual pop of all those colorful blooms.

Eddings, at the garden: Holy crow, are you kidding me?

David Harnett: No.  I’m telling you this is, like, a big wow factor.

That’s David Harnett, whose own house down the street is also on the tour.  He helped organize the gardens in West Park

Eddings, to Harnett: Oh. My. Goodness.  Look at his house! It’s just…

Harnett:  That’s one of the things about being on the garden tour, you get to somebody’s house and it’s like ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know this was back here.’  It’s thilling, it’s like you’re watching a movie or something.

Eddings:  It’s also the thrill of the possible. (She sees John Hrick). Holy smokes!

John Hrick: Yeah….

Edding: Whoa! Impressive..  Amy Eddings, WCPN.  What’s your name?

Hric: John.  John Hrick.

Eddings:  R-I-C-K?

Hrick: H-R-I-C-K.  It’s Slovak.  that’s what we do in the garden.  We “Slovak” around. 

John Hrick and his wife have lived here at 16820 Chatfield Ave since 1976. Daylilies are everywhere – thickening a border in the front yard, nodding along the entire length of the driveway, and consuming his back yard.

Hrick: My son was kidding me the other day, he said, ‘so what part of the grass is going to disappear this year?’”

Hrick says they started with a vegetable garden and slowly worked their way into an obsession with daylilies.  

Eddings: One thing that’s great about daylilies is, this is July and you’ve got color in your garden.  Was that the draw?

Hrick: Um, it was just an evolution thing.  We would go to the nursery and pick out a daylily plant and buy it for our anniversary present to each other.  And then one thing led to another.  At some point, I started hybridizing them and that’s when it really got....(giggles)....sticky.

Eddings: And tell me what that means, hybridizing. 

Hrick: You take pollen from one plant and put it on another and see if you’re lucky that day.  It’s my form of gambling.

Google “hybridizing daylilies,” and all sorts of how-to websites pop up.  Daylilies are easy to hybridize because their sexual parts – their pollen-producing stamens and their pipeline to the ovary, the pistil – are, to put it bluntly, large and easy to manipulate. And they’re fun to hybridize because there are so many qualities to mess around with, especially color.  Daylilies come in classic yellow and “ditch daylily” orange as well as  creams, whites, pinks, even purple-black.

Hrick: I think of daylilies like crayons for adults to play with.  You put two plants together, and the genetics are just incredible and you’ll be surprised every time. 

The size of Hrick’s garden, and the scope of his hybridization tasks, made me think, this guy’s got to be retired and doing this full-time.  Not true.  The 64 year old holds down a full time job as a computer programmer.  He says he makes the time for his daylilies. 

Hrick: This is a daily thing, it’s therapy.  It counteracts the stress of moments like this with electronics.  (He laughs, looking at my microphone.) So, I come out here and my wife knows where to find me.

Hrick’s daylily oasis is one of 162 private gardens and community gardens that will be open to the public for fun and for free during GardenWalk Cleveland this weekend in West Park, Detroit Shoreway, North Collinwood and Slavic Village.    Amy Eddings, 90.3. 

For more on GardenWalk Cleveland, click here

Map of GardenWalk in Detroit-Shoreway

Map of GardenWalk in North Collinwood

Map of GardenWalk in Slavic Village

Map of Garden Walk in West Park

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