On a recent summer afternoon on my northern Wisconsin farm, I was busy raking up grass clippings created from mowing around a handful of apple trees.
Normally Iâ€™m able to mow this mini-orchard regularly so that raking isnâ€™t needed. But on this particular occasion, a combination of ultra-hot weather and a busy schedule forced me to neglect the mowing a bit longer than Iâ€™d intended.
No matter thoughâ€”grass clippings are good for many things, including mulch and fertilizer. Once I raked the clippings into piles, I set aside some for future use. Then I loaded the rest into my trusty red wagon to haul away and spread in the woods.
I knew just the placeâ€”a secluded spot not far from the old pond, where young pine, ash, and chokecherry trees grow on sloping and uneven ground. I figured I would spread the grass clipping through the low spots. This is part of a long-term effort to smooth out the tricky terrain.
A Welcome Surprise
It was while I was shoveling the grass clippings out of the wagon that I noticed the daylily. Tucked in among the trees, shining in a small patch of sunlight, was a single bloom reaching toward the sky.
Impressed by this completely unexpected sight, I crashed my way through tall grass and cherry branches to take a closer look. To my surprise, I discovered much more than a single daylily plant.
There was only one flower in bloom. But a substantial area of groundâ€”a roughly circular spot six feet acrossâ€”was covered in daylilies. The majority were nothing more than spindly leaves crying out for sunlight in the deep shade of the forest.
I have no idea how these daylilies got started growing in the woods. Perhaps they were transported their accidentally. There are many daylilies across the farm, so anythingâ€™s possible.
Or perhaps a former owner of the farm planted them long ago, as part of a landscaping effort around the pond. Maybe they simply got crowded out by encroaching trees to the point where I had never noticed them.
In any case, I was impressed by the resilience of these woodland daylilies. The one that endeavored to put out a flower under challenging circumstances particularly intrigued me.
I knew the daylilies would never thrive in the ever-deepening shade of the rapidly-growing trees. So I decided then and there to give them a boost by transplanting them to a sunnier location.
Later that afternoon, I returned to my newly-discovered flowerbed with a shovel and some cardboard boxes. Battling my way past hungry mosquitos, I plunged into the shade and quickly dug up the two largest daylilies. I brought a substantial amount of soil with each one in an effort to preserve their roots as well as possible.
I loaded the daylilies into my wagon and set off toward my orchard. The lone flower bobbed along behind me.
Before long Iâ€™d successfully planted the two daylilies in a sunny spot along a fenceline, not far from a row of apple trees. With frequent watering to ease the shock of transplanting, Iâ€™m happy to report theyâ€™re doing well.
Additional flowers have bloomed. I intend to transplant the remainder of the daylilies in the near futureâ€”as soon as the mosquitos ease off a little.
I continue to be amazed at the surprises a farm can offer up. Just when you think youâ€™ve learned every acre by heart, you can casually head out to spread some glass clippings and discover a patch of previously unknown daylilies.
If you ask me, thatâ€™s pretty special!