By JESSICA BARNETT
Twenty trash cans full of potting soil, several bags of fertilizer and numerous other gardening supplies line the front and back porch of Blaise Brazos’ house. The supplies help him care for over 1,500 different types of lilies in his front yard.
Brazos works full time as a microbiologist, but for nine months out of the year he is also an avid gardener. “I didn’t know anything about gardening when I started,” he said.
Brazos started gardening when he bought his house at 615 W. Broadway 12 years ago. It took him only six years to go from his first flower bed to an entire yard full of them.
“As the hobby grew, I needed more room,” Brazos said. It started with tearing out trees and sidewalks to make room for more lilies.
When he ran out of room in his front yard, he bought a lot at 711 Spencer Ave. near West Junior High School. At the lot, he estimates there are an additional 700 lily varieties plus about 1,000 of his own seedlings.
Brazos has such a large display of lilies that he often has people stop by his house to see them up close and talk to Brazos. “I want to have a little bit of everything, so if someone wants to talk, I’ve got something to show them,” he said.
Brazos said that his garden usually only blooms for two months, beginning in May and peaking during the summer solstice in June.
A lot of work goes into preparing for those two months. Early in the year, the weeding and fertilizing begins. Next is the time to browse catalogs and visit lily farms to purchase more lilies to plant at the beginning of bloom season, or pot them up and plant them at the end of August.
During bloom season, he gets to hybridize his flowers and try to create something new and unique. Although he likes to hybridize them because it lets him be creative, Brazos does not register his flowers. He prefers to just give them away, which he does frequently at doctors visits, to people that stop at his garden and as donations to the Central Missouri Hemerocallis Society.
Now that bloom season is over, Brazos spends at least an hour a day collecting all the seed pods left on his lilies, drying them out and storing them to plant after winter. And of course, there is still more weeding to do, including grooming the beds by pulling out the dead canes.
One of the reasons Brazos enjoys gardening so much is because of the physical labor required to do it. But because of health issues, he hasn’t been able to work in his gardens as much as he would like this year.
Brazos also is an active participant in events held by the Central Missouri Hemerocallis Society throughout the year. The club is hosting a plant sale at both farmer’s markets in Columbia on Saturday, Aug 21.
Currently, Brazos is working on preparing his garden for display next year. Columbia will be the host city for the Region 11 meeting for the American Hemerocallis Society. For this meeting, gardeners from Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri will come to Columbia and tour six different gardens around the city, including Brazos’.