Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Established 1891
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"The Wild Gardener"
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What will the county
flower be?

By Frank Rizzo
SULLIVAN COUNTY — The Sullivan County Bicentennial Committee wants residents to vote for the Sullivan County flower. The voting began at the Sullivan Renaissance 2009 Winter Conference and Expo, and the clear winner was the mountain laurel, with 60 votes, followed by sunflower (24), day lily (21) and daisy (18).
To cast a vote for your favorite flower, send an e-mail to or to County Legislative Aide Alexis Eggleton at

A close relative of rhododendrons and azaleas, this shrub has glossy, deep green leaves attractive year-round. It is not related to bay laurel trees, from which the laurels of history and literary fame derive.
To the first Europeans who gazed upon this New World native, it seemed a reminder of bay laurel. Big difference, however – while the foliage of the European flower is used as a culinary herb, that of the mountain laurel is poisonous.
It grows all over Sullivan County, and is an evergreen shrub up to ten feet high but often grows much lower, adapts to light shade to partial shade, is resistant to deer (and not good for humans to eat either), and, once established, is very drought tolerant. The flowers are complex, beautiful, and the shrubs grace the garden all year round. And unlike sunflowers, daisies and daylilies it’s a native plant that’s quite home in Sullivan County.
Digging up and transplanting wild mountain laurel is not recommended. It is better to buy them from a nursery.
Good soil is another crucial factor in growing mountain laurels. It should be moist but well-drained, a combination not always easy to achieve. But according to garden experts, adding peat moss, humus and sand before planting will make the conditions better. Pine needles and wood chips are excellent mulch and help keep the soil acidic, which is also important for plant health.
The shrubs rarely need to be pruned, but is recommended that the seed heads be pinched off after blooming time to promote better flowering the following season.

One of the few crop species that originated in North America. It was probably domesticated by western native American tribes around 1000 BC and then spread throughout North and Central America – the geographic area in which it was observed by the first European explorers.
After being introduced in Europe by the Spanish, it rapidly spread there and became popular for its oil as more and more hybrids were cultivated.
These “high-oil” hybrids were reintroduced in the United States after World War II and rekindled interest in the crop. New hybrids and production farms spread as the flower became popular for its oil and as a bird and human snack food.
Sunflower production areas are moving westward into drier regions, but 85 percent of the North American sunflower seed is still produced in North and South Dakota and Minnesota.

Not technically a member of the lily family, the day lily (or, as is more commonly preferred, daylily) has the botanical name Hemerocallis, which is derived from two Greek words meaning “beauty” and “day.” This refers to the fact that each flower lasts only one day. To make up for this, there are many flower buds on each daylily flower stalk, and many stalks in each clump of plants, so, the flowering period of a clump is usually several weeks long. Many cultivars have more than one flowering period.

In many countries, it is seen as a love token (the Germans call it “The lover’s measure”) because its petals are used as a means to discover the measure of love bestowed on young girls by their lovers.
Saxons called the flower “day eye,” making note of how at sunset it closed its petals over its “eye,” only to unfold them again at dawn. This affinity to feeling refreshed prompted the old saying, “Fresh as a daisy.”

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