Friday, June 26, 2009

Daylilies and a rehearsal dinner

Twenty-two years ago today was wedding eve. The day before an event the likes of which Huntsville, Ala., still has not seen duplicated. But the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner also stick in my mind, not only because they were a lot of fun, but because the dinner marked my introduction to daylilies.

The wedding was double, my sister and I got married together. Here we are at the rehearsal dinner, (Chris, Karen, Susan, Gregory) with the spectacular daylily centerpiece that my in-laws and their friends created.


We inherited those daylilies, which are blooming profusely this year thanks to a fair amount of spring rain. These are photos I took this week.






I wrote the following piece about our daylilies several years ago as public radio commentary. But the sentiment still holds true on this day when I find myself thinking about them and that very special time 22 years ago.

When I'm in a good mood, I look out at the thousands of daylilies blooming in our yard and think about our wedding. I remember the tables at the rehearsal dinner covered in gorgeous yellow and orange daylilies. I can almost see the arrangements at the wedding reception. Everyone says they were beautiful, but I remember those only from photos. I still hear the excitement in my then eight-year-old cousin's voice as she proudly showed me the daylilies she'd helped dig out of my new in-law's garden; daylilies she promised to plant in her own yard as soon as she got back home.

When my mood's not so good, I think of the many times we've moved the daylilies. After Chris' parents sold their garden property and moved to Florida, we transplanted 400 plants to our house near Five Points in Huntsville, Ala. Two years later, the daylilies needed dividing, so we moved 600 to our new place in Marietta, Ga. Our last move saw an increase in plants to more than 900. When I think about these moves, I have to get a glass of water and sit down.

This time of year, when the lilies are blooming so beautifully, in colors you never see planted along the ditch banks, I realize they are worth moving. They are so much more than the armloads of burgundy, pink, yellow, purple and orange blossoms that I gather every day for six weeks to decorate the fixer-upper. They are Chris' past.

Chris' mom and dad hybridized some of the daylilies and gave them names like Richmond and Salt Lake City. I can't look at their blossoms without thinking of the Kennedy's and what they passed on to Chris--a love of the outdoors and a concern for nature that shows in Chris' enthusiasm for recycling, growing vegetables and planting flowers, that's apparent in his willingness to move to the Atlanta area to please me, but only if I'll live on acreage in the suburbs.

It's morning now, the best time to cut flowers whose blossoms last only one day. Armed with scissors, I head up the hill to the garden. I guess I married the daylilies shortly after I married Chris. They're a lot alike, Chris and the lilies. Both quiet, hearty, good to look at and happy to be growing on our plot of ground in the shadow of the big city.


Elizabeth said...

I loved this! I have wanted to read the daylily story again, ever since you read it at the library program years ago. Thank you for sharing it, and the lovely pictures of the daylilies. Grace and I were in the daylily garden at Missouri Botanical Garden while in St. Louis and thought of you and Chris, and the Kennedys!

Anonymous said...

I loved this story. I, too, love daylilies but can't cut them to enjoy in the house as they instantly die on me. Am I doing something wrong that you are doing so right? Marianne in NH

Ed and Elizabeth said...

Hey Cousin Karen! How are you? Your mom gave me the address to your blog and I enjoyed looking back at your posts! I especially loved this wedding one, how fun is it to reminisce! I can't wait to celebrate our 20th, 30th, 50th, etc wedding anniversary. You looked beautiful in your dress! I can still remember seeing pictures of your double wedding at Great Grandma's house when I was little. I have 2 blogs (one I don't update it was from my pregnancy but still fun to look back at).

The newest one is of our family, I set it up for our family and friends to see pictures of Jack since we don't live near anyone we know (

I will check back to your blogs because you are a wonderful writer. :) ~Scottie