Sunday, December 19, 2010

Meet Mark Carpenter of The Lily Farm

                                                               Mark and Jack Carpenter

   The spring of 2010, Mark Carpenter, nephew of hybridizer Jack Carpenter fulfilled one of
his long time dreams and became the proud new owner of The Lily Farm in Center,
Texas.  Young Mark and his family spent his childhood moving from place to place
following his fathers job with Rockwell International.  About fifteen years ago, Mark first
made a trip to his uncles daylily farm to lend a hand during the busy memorial day
weekend.  After seeing the 50,000+ flowers blooming and the happiness they brought to
everyone visiting, and was instantly hooked.  He spent the next several years helping out at the
farm and learning about daylily farming and hybridizing.  A couple of years ago Jack  started to drop hints that he was getting ready to sell the farm, but Mark thought
it was beyond his means and besides that he had young children enrolled in
school, 5 hours away from  the farm.  One night last year, while discussing his uncles
decision to sell The Lily Farm with his wife Jill, his youngest daughter reminded him of
his own advice and told him to follow his dream.  After a month of email negotiations
with Jack, a price was agreed on and the deal was done.  He left his job with HEB, a
local grocery chain and relocated to the farm.  His wife and daughter stayed until school let out. Spring 2010 saw the first introductions registered with Mark at the
    Mark considers his Uncle Jack to be his biggest inspiration, breeding large
flowered diploids with wide sepals and a heavy substance.  His own lines will continue to
increase full formed flower size, hoping for up to ten inches.  He’s also working with the
amazing, unusual form, patterned lines that Jack left for him.  When asked about how he
decides what will be a potential cross, Mark says, “When I analyze a cross, I look at what
plants have given me unique things, and I always look to cross those back with the
original trait giver as this often leads to even greater new characteristics that were hidden
before.”  Customer service is one of utmost importance and he will bring parent plants
into the greenhouse to get as much hybridizing done as possible.  Once The Lily Farm
opens to the public for the year, there is very little time for hybridizing.  Mark hopes to
increase the visibility of daylilies in general and The Lily Farm specifically over the next
few years, “Ideally we would like this to be a true vacation destination for those who love
    There is never enough time in the day to do everything we want to and that’s
especially true when trying to run a daylily farm with such a short period of time in which
to get your product out.  Thankfully Mark has several friends and family members,
including his wife Jill, daughters Lindsey and Kelsey, Josie Bomar and even Uncle Jack,
who come lend a hand when they’re at their busiest.  There is only one full time
employee, Jose, Mark says, “I am not sure the farm could operate without Jose's hard
work.”  Anyone who has ever been to the south east knows that gardening there presents
some very difficult challenges.  Temperatures regularly soar over 100 degree farenheit
during the summer.  Humidity from the gulf makes for ideal conditions for rust and
crown rot to flourish.  This doesn’t mean that Carpenter introductions aren’t hardy,
temperatures average below 32 degrees in the winter, sometimes dropping into the low
teens.  I myself have several of Jack’s introductions and I know many gardeners in
Canada who also enjoy them.  We midwesterners love our Carpenters.  Uniqueness, plant
habit, clarity in color, great substance and great form are the qualities that just might get a
plant actually introduced to the general public.  “One of the unique aspects of the Lily
Farm is the fact that we sell seedlings to the general public by the clump during our open
house.  Since we have 4 acres of daylilies stretched across 6 acres of land, this is truly a
wonderful venture to come out and put a flag beside the daylilies YOU would most like
to have.”
    To the amateur hybridizer, Mark offers this advice “If you are not doing a ton of
seedlings, focus on the one thing you love and buy plants that exhibit that trait. Then go
for it!” 
    The Lily Farm is open to the public May 15 to June 30 every year from 9am to
2:30 pm.  Visit the website here 
Bumblebee Beautiful
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Mount Herman Intrigue
Texas Blue Eyes

Tiger On The Mountain


  1. Awesome, Cody! Welcome to the blogosphere!

    I love this format and cant wait to see who you cover next!

  2. I can see right now that I can't trust my own proof reading abilities. Sorry for the mistakes.

  3. Loved the pictures. Don't worry that much about the proofreading--better to say it than not. Great first blog post.

  4. Love this blog and will look forward to the updates. Photos are stunning.