Each summer the grounds of RichfieldLiving in Salem glow with more than 300 stars of orange, yellow, burgundy and pink. The flowers are daylilies planted by Shirley Jarusek, director of landscape operations at RichfieldLiving.
In the next several years, Jarusek plans to have 1,000 daylilies.
Her arduous work over the last four years paid off when the American Daylily Society accepted the Richfield plantings as a Display Garden for the Jane Morgan Harris Gardens.
Jarusek received the official ADS Display Garden sign in late September. The gardens are named for Harris, who started residential medical care for women primarily in 1934 at Mercy House which evolved into RichfieldLiving.
There are 185 daylilies in the gardens that date from the 1970s and 1980s, and a few from the 1960s. Jarusek is proud that “The oldest one is ‘Cleo’ from 1938.”
Although many people are familiar with wild orange “ditch lilies,” not everyone has seen extra-large daylilies, doubles, spiders, sculpted and many others Jarusek names effortlessly.
The Daylily Display Gardens at RichfieldLiving are along wide, well-maintained sidewalks, and each daylily is labeled with professional labels listing the cultivar name, hybridizer’s name and the date that lily was registered. There are more in grassy areas, and near benches where residents, staff and visitors can sit to enjoy the flowers.
“Our Master Plan provides for the expansion of the Display Gardens over the next several years with a goal of acquiring a minimum of 1,000 different named culitvars,” Jarusek explained. “We have provided a map of our campus which highlights existing and future Display Garden areas.
In addition to her duties of planting, trimming and fertilizing all types of flowers and shrubs, Jarusek is known for the massive raised baskets she plants around the campus, filled with petunias or impatients in the summer.
She also designs and creates all the outdoor Christmas displays, puts together the huge Christmas tree near the lower lake, places the indoor trees and displays and many other duties.
As far as daylilies go, her newest acquisitions have such intriguing names as Crimson Pirate, Heavenly Starfire, Miss Piggy’s Hot Pink, Searing Wind, The Cat that ate the Mighty Mouse and Wild Times.
Jarusek got those at the Blue Ridge Area Daylily Society Member Plant Auction in September.
She plans a separate Jane Morgan Harris Memorial Garden planted in a 1930s style with daylilies that would have been available during that period.