The Dirty Dozen (with Gretchen H)

Meet Gretchen Hitselberger! Gretchen and her husband garden at their home, Clare Calabria, in northeastern Dutchess county. You can visit their garden on the Hidden Gardens of Amenia Garden Tour this Saturday (7/14), and on the Hudson Valley Iris & Daylily Society’s (HVIDS) Open Daylily Gardens next weekend.

1. What is your favorite Hudson Valley garden to visit?
That would have to be Mead Farm House Garden in Amenia. Even the “weeds” are cultivars that make a great showing!

2. What book should no gardener’s library be without?
I always find myself referring to Dirr’s “Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Clear, well organized and full of information. For online reference, I rely on zipcodezoo.com.

3. If you were a tree, what would you be?
I’d be a paper birch (Betula papyrifera). They always look so happy and bright even on a dreary day.

4. What new (to you) plant do you have to have this year?
Gardenia jasminoides. I visit it every year at the nursery and don’t think I can go one more year without bringing it home.

Clare House - Celtic Knot Gardens

5. If you were to plant a 3 genus garden…
Hemerocallis, heuchera and hosta.

6. Garden tool you can’t live without?
Pruning shears

7. Gloves or no gloves?
Gloves when I start out in the morning, but then I seem to lose them by the end of the day.

8. What are your favorite daylily sources?
Bloomingfields Farm in Gaylordsville, CT – the fans they provide are really strong and have never failed us, Greystone Greehouses in Sharon, CT – if they don’t have what I want they go out of their way to help me find it, Hardy Daylily Garden in Falls Church, CT – Mr. Hardy has an amazing collection from dips to tets and he is a hybridizer so there is always a surprise beauty to be found plus he is incredibly knowledgable. We got our first daylilies from him. I try to get our daylilies as close to local as possible because I know they will grow here and I love meeting the people at the greenhouses, nurseries and farms – an amazing group of folks who are always willing to share knowledge.

9. If you could spend the day gardening with anyone, who would it be?
Piet Oudolf

10. Any garden outings planned for this season?
Hidden Gardens of Amenia, HVIDS Tour and Trade Secrets Gardens, of course! And it wouldn’t be summer without stopping in at the NY Botanical Gardens to look at the daylilies.

11. I’d like to learn more about _________.
Camellia sinensis. I keep having visions of a tea garden.

12. What project, plant, idea, etc. are you most excited about this season?
This next phase of the vegetable parterre garden where we add in the first layers of millwork. Also, this is the year that all of the vegetables will keep their formal look as they grow to maturity – I’m sure of it. Oh wait, that’s what I said last year…

'Judge Orr', 1939

13. What are your favorite daylily sources?
(Bonus Question!)
Bloomingfields Farm in Gaylordsville, CT – the fans they provide are really strong and have never failed us, Greystone Greehouses in Sharon, CT – if they don’t have what I want they go out of their way to help me find it, Hardy Daylily Garden in Falls Church, CT – Mr. Hardy has an amazing collection from dips to tets and he is a hybridizer so there is always a surprise beauty to be found plus he is incredibly knowledgable. We got our first daylilies from him. I try to get our daylilies as close to local as possible because I know they will grow here and I love meeting the people at the greenhouses, nurseries and farms – an amazing group of folks who are always willing to share knowledge.

About Gretchen Hitselberger: The first thing we did when we moved into our 1860 home was to put in flower beds and we haven’t stopped planting since. Our garden is relatively young, only 10 years old. We  feature historic daylilies and daylily species.  I try to design the gardens to be continually in bloom from May through September so no matter when we go outside there is always something blossoming. We have one registered daylily – Hemerocallis ‘Jade Hill STAC’ which is a midseason Ellison ruffled bloom. We are working towards becoming a National Historic Daylily Garden and this year will be our first year of eligibility to be considered.  There aren’t any other historic daylily display gardens in Dutchess/Harlem Valley, so it would be a very exciting thing. Winters are spent looking for elusive species of daylilies for the gardens and the rest of the year is spent enjoying them. We are members of HVIDS and the AHS (American Hemerocallis Society) and Co-Presidents of the Hidden Gardens of Amenia Garden Tour.

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Greystone Greenhouses is located at ‪206 Amenia Road, Sharon, CT‬  ‪(860) 364-5193‬

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