Daylilys celebrated by thousands in Gray

wcrenshaw@macon.comJune 7, 2014 

GRAY -- If you like flowers but have never have much of a knack for keeping them alive, organizers of the Daylily Festival say they have the plant for you.

“You can grow these with a black thumb,” said Judy Comer, of the Gray Garden Club. “Unless you put them in a swamp, you will have flowers.”

The city’s annual celebration of one of the South’s favorite perennials drew more than 3,000 people Saturday. The festival is in its 11th year.

Jim Brittain of Gray has thousands of daylilies growing around his home. His wife, Carol, took first, second and third place in the festival’s daylily show in the category for named varieties.

Brittain started growing daylilies about 20 years ago. He grows them for the Jones County Kiwanis Club, which sells the plants at the festival. He said he enjoys the plants because it’s easy to create new ones through cross-pollination.

“It’s the variety of colors you can come up with and the shapes and sizes,” he said.

While daylilies are generally easy to grow, he said, getting the best out them takes some skill by knowing the right amount of fertilizer and water to use. They also are not especially picky about sunlight, and can grow even in full shade but that’s probably not optimal. They do best in full sun, Brittain said.

Deer might be the biggest enemy of the daylily enthusiast. Daylilies are apparently a delicacy to deer, but there are products that can be scattered around the plants to make them less appetizing.

The daylily’s name comes from the fact that each bud blooms for only 24 hours, but because the plants have so many buds, a bed of daylilies will stay in continuous bloom during the blooming period.

But if flowers aren’t your thing, the Daylily Festival still has you covered. Events have come and gone over the years, but Saturday featured a car show, rides for children, live entertainment, food and arts and crafts.

Aubrey Newby, the festival chairman, said the festival originated with some locals who thought the community should have some type of festival. They didn’t know of any other community in the region to have a festival dedicated to daylilies, so they settled on that. Proceeds from the event benefit Main Street Gray. It started downtown with just a few vendors and has steadily grown, he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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