Jungle Paradise Daylilies
Location: 929 Mill Creek Drive, Dawsonville
To say June is Suzanne Franklin’s busiest month is an understatement.
“I stay busy the whole month,” Franklin said. “I don’t take vacations, I am here in my garden.”
That’s because she’s a daylily hybridizer, and her flowers bloom in June.
But she worked two or three years to finally get the flowers to have the specific characteristics that she wanted. In fact, Franklin has 50 new different types of daylily that she created herself, each of which took about six years to reach the point where she could register them this year.
She can cross any two flowers she wants to achieve a certain look or type, like glittery edges or gold dusting.
“You can even cross for fragrances,” Franklin said. “Some flowers are more fragrant than others.”
It takes about two or three years after a cross pollination for a flower to bloom. After a first bloom, it takes years to ensure its quality, test for possible diseases and ensure she has enough of the plant to sell.
Flowers that don’t pass her test are sold or given away.
“I don’t destroy them like some other hybridizers do,” Franklin said.
She’s also different from other hybridizers because she doesn’t use pots or a greenhouse. She said she doesn’t want her flowers to wilt in the summer heat or freeze in the winter. By growing them naturally, she can safely ship them to northern states. And that is also something most flower sellers don’t do.
Once she selects the best of the best, Franklin takes the “vitals” for each, including height, width, color patterns and any signs of rust.
The best are harvested and put into the fridge for next year’s plantings, which take place in September.
All of it takes a toll, but Franklin’s husband has started to help in the past few years, she said.
“Only when I have to,” Bobby Franklin said, laughing.
Their house doubles as Franklin’s headquarters, dubbed Jungle Paradise. She hosts garden clubs, groups and individuals who come to check out and purchase directly from her gardens. The peak season is May to July.
Her 14-acre lot is home to three gardens, each serving a different purpose.
The park garden, as she calls it, is open to guests year-round. But visitors are asked to call before coming. It features up to 75 different types of azaleas, hydrangeas and other flowers, as well as purple-stemmed elephant ears and banana trees. Benches and chairs are scattered throughout, allowing people to sit and enjoy the garden.
Her middle garden contains other plants and flowers.
And, of course, the backyard garden is where she creates her hybrids. Then in June, she wakes up with the sun and rushes to it to see the results.
“Sometimes I even get up before the sun, if I’m doing a video for Facebook,” Franklin said.
When she’s shooting a video for her website or Facebook, she sets up before the sun can cast a glare on the moving images of her flowers.
“It gets too bright, and it affects how the flower looks when the sun is out,” Franklin said.
Then, she walks through her gardens, picking out the few she thinks will make nice additions to her already registered list of daylilies, and places a flag or other indicator next to the flower.
“I have probably more than 50 that I could register right now,” Franklin said.
But for now, she waits through the winter months in anticipation of the eruption.
“It’s always a work in progress,” she said.