We’re all looking for close-to-home escapes these days, and one of our region’s hidden gems is the Amador Flower Farm & Nursery. From countless different colorful daylilies sprouting across 14 acres of rolling farmland to a delightful kid-friendly pumpkin patch and outdoor picnic area, it’s the perfect family day trip up into the foothills.

Flowers galore
Located just outside of Plymouth, nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley foothills and surrounded by boutique wineries, AFFN specializes in daylilies, with over 1000 varieties spread in walkable rows on the grounds. For those of you who think daylilies come in one color – orange – think again. Think every color you can imagine – and more. Ruffled edges. Ornate patterns. Huge. Tall. Small. Delicate. Just a few of the words that popped into my head as I ambled about, ogling the incredible diversity of these flowers that are happy in the Central Valley’s dry sunny climate.

Established in 1996, the nursery is open to the public, no admission needed. The AFFN acres’ peak bloom usually runs June through August; however, the flowers continue to bloom through Fall. After you park, head for the charming wooden building and gift shop to pick up information cards about daylilies before you start exploring. There’s a good reason to do this.

While the plants showcase the lilies, most are also available in pots and in early Spring as bare root bulbs. Every row of pots is labeled with codes to help you select which ones would be best for your garden. There are over 20 abbreviations, such as EE – blooms extra early. HT – height of flower scape in inches. S – semi-evergreen. Without those info cards, you won’t know their key performance attributes. Helpful hint: take a snapshot or write down the numbers from the daylily’s sign. The plants are organized numerically, and if you lose your lily, the helpful folks at the counter can point you in the right direction.

While selecting varieties from those that were planted, I discovered that some are actually being “proved” and not yet ready for market. A nursery person explained they do extended assessments of the bulbs before making them available to the public, seeing how they grow and thrive. When dormant, a portion of the planted bulbs are dug up in early spring and sold as bare root in store or online.

Drought tolerant and easy to plant – and deer resistant as well – daylilies can add sprays of color from Spring through Fall, depending on which plants you choose. You can pick up care and feeding instructions on how to keep your daylilies happy from the nursery, and the very friendly staff are happy to answer questions.

Beyond flowers
Being all outdoors, the nursery has had the good fortune to be able to remain open throughout the year; it is open year ‘round, seven days a week. A pleasantly shaded picnic ground beside a burbling creek welcomes visitors. Check out the massive oak in the center of the flower acres, with nearby seats for quiet contemplation. There are easy walking paths along the stream, as well as among the flowers. The nursery building also carries an assortment of other plants, as well as unusual and seasonal gifts.

Normally AFFN has up to 10 events a year, from Easter Egg hunts to Fall Fun Days, as well as tram tours around the property. I checked and they plan to do their Pumpkin Patch this year, although it will be laid out differently to minimize crowding. The corn maze will be open, the scarecrows and hay bales waiting, and gourds, pumpkins and other fall festive treats will be awaiting their guests.

If you want to do a little wine tasting as part of your trip, many of the local wineries are open. Just Google wineries near Plymouth, CA for current information. Most also carry food items and have outdoor eating areas.

A couple more helpful hints: Wear comfortable shoes for walking – the grounds are hilly. And a hat – daylilies like sun, so most of the walks are in full sunlight. Bring a picnic and enjoy just sitting outside, away from it all. You can learn more above events, activities, the flowers, and shop online at www.AmadorFlowerFarm.com.