Springwood Gardens daylily farm: Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling


I enjoy daylilies and grow a few in my own garden. But I couldn’t quite imagine a whole farm of daylilies until we visited Springwood Gardens, the daylily breeding operation of Karol Emmerich, one of our stops on the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling.


Karol’s goal is to produce beautiful and interesting varieties of cold-hardy daylilies on her zone 4 acreage.


Seeing the farm in midsummer, when all the daylilies are in bloom, is like stepping into a giant box of crayons. The colors are enhanced by a sweeping view of green trees below the hilltop farm.


Our visit was brief, so I didn’t get pictures of individual daylilies except for this beauty, ‘Bluegrass Memories’.


The gardens include a few other plants, like airy Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).


A number of sculptures adorn the gardens too.


But what fascinated me most about the whole place was Karol’s home, a Mansard-style house constructed by a Swedish immigrant and railroad builder in 1862. With emerald-green shutters, ivy scaling the brick walls, and a tidy, walled garden, it looked like something out of a Wes Anderson movie.


It enjoys a view of the green valley in back and, in front, acres of colorful daylilies where Karol keeps dreaming up new hybrids.

Up next: The paintbox colors and Big Bugs exhibit at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. For a look back at the contemporary-classic garden of blogger Rhonda Fleming Hayes, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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18 Responses

  1. This was a pretty impressive stop, and it was fascinating to talk to Karol about what she looks for in a daylily. But I had to ask about daylilies for shade, and unfortunately she gave me a decided negative. Oh well. I can enjoy them in other people’s gardens!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Shade is relative, and here in Austin daylilies do quite well in afternoon shade. In fact they can fry in full sun. Bummer that you can’t have them, Helen, but I feel sure you have plants that others covet. The grass is always greener after all (unless you really do have too much shade). —Pam

      • Rachelle says:

        As a gardener, I always believed daylilies are fine for some shade because they will bloom there; however, a nationally-known hybridizer moved in across the street from me and to see the difference between full sun in his hybridizing yard and any shade… It just does not do a daylily justice to grow it in the shade.

  2. Your photos are lovely. I can almost forget how scorchingly hot it was when we were there!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It was kind of hot that day, wasn’t it? Now that I’m home in the real heat, I’ve romanticized Minneapolis as a cool escape. —Pam

  3. Lara Leaf says:

    What a setting! I’m sure all the daylilies were gorgeous… but that house and its’ views! Wow! Hahah, it reminds me of an Italian villa.
    Don’t you love visiting different gardening zones – seeing the plants that grow with abandon there – plants that, if you decide to put forth the effort, you have to baby to get to grow and the struggle is all year round? (Didn’t we all do that when we were still young gardeners?) My lifetime love has always been the small succulents, the various ones called hens and chicks. They do not do well, if at all, on the Gulf coast, they eventually melt away during our humid summers. My sis lives in Santa Barbara. They are basically weeds to her, they grow so easy there. That climate – and what do they choose to grow – hybrid roses. That’s all. Drives me nuts!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Your comment cracked me up, Lara Leaf. Those California gardeners! Wasting their climate on hybrid roses — ha! I’m with you. I’d much prefer succulents myself. Can you imagine even considering them weeds? Ah, they’re blessed with that climate. Well, except for the lack of water. —Pam

  4. Alison says:

    Oh yes, much too short a post. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that others got more daylily closeups. That is a cool house, and I can definitely see the Wes Anderson connection.

  5. OOooooo what a place to carry out your dreams.

  6. Laura Munoz says:

    Love the colorful daylilies and that statue with the children on the trunk is so cool! Good or bad, I’m like the California gardener who wants to grow hybrid roses where succulents grow so easily, and I’ve been gardening in Texas since 1995. I prefer intensely green leafy flowering plants over the desert-type plants most Texans are in love with.–I know by writing this it makes me an outcast, and I hope I don’t offend anyone. I do think a Texas cottage garden can be created with leafy Texas natives and antique roses without putting a hole in your bank account from watering. (I lived in Holland for awhile and that probably influences me.)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Laura, I’m glad you shared your own gardening passion, and though I’m sure you know my own fondness for spiny agaves, I also believe there’s not a thing wrong with preferring other kinds of plants! As with everything, gardening has room for a huge variety of tastes and desires and styles. And that’s the beauty of going on a tour: you are exposed to all kinds of gardens and people with various passions. Diversity makes the world more interesting and beautiful. Keep rocking your Texas cottage garden! I had that kind of garden at my last home and loved it very much. —Pam

  7. Laura Munoz says:

    Yes, I’ve seen photos of your former garden and I drooled over them, but I like your current garden as well. It also has some flowers, a neat cypress, and that COOL stock tank!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      It’s a different kind of garden for different conditions (shade, rock, and deer instead of sun, deep soil, and no deer) and a different place in my life (more shrubs and evergreens for less maintenance). It’s fun to try something new! —Pam

  8. Karol Emmerich says:

    You are a wonderful photographer. It was a great group. So glad you could come:-)

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