Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meet Sally Marcum of Willowbrook Acres and Hemchat

Sally Marcum

Willowbrook Touch Of Midnight (2007)
Willowbrook Jurrasic Amber (2008)
Willowbrook Snappy Dresser (2008)

     Ever wonder where you can chat with knowledgeable daylily hybridizers
and growers in real time?  If you answered yes, then just maybe hemchat
would be the place for you too. started out as
and was owned by Mike Longo, owner of The Lily Auction.  The site had
around 140 members with approximately 1/3 of them actively chatting.  In
2008, shut down without any warning and everyone was told
that it wouldn’t be back.  That’s when Sally Marcum, owner of
Willowbrook Acres, stepped up and gave us all a ‘home’ to come back to.
“I have experience with the internet and computers, but I knew very little
about a chat room...When it closed, I felt like I should find a daylily chat
room for our members.  I started shopping around for chat software and
asking around what I needed to put up a chatroom.  One being the owner of
a chat that was similar to the room we were used to using.  That owner put
me in touch with Miles Trolly, a technician in Kentucky, that has experience
putting up chat rooms.  His price was right so I hired him.”

    Once someone was working on chat software, the next step was to
find a server to host the software.  Sally was familiar with
since they hosted the previous room, so that made the decision easier.
“Miles was a great person to work with.  He taught me how to manage the
site and to access chat room files on Blue Host through a managers area.  I
learned how to put up new animated icons using a specific set of codes in a
specific file area.  One extra dot or squiggle in the line of code could crash
the whole site.  It was very necessary I learn how to avoid a catastrophe by
backing up the file before I began to add anything.”  Occasionally she will
back up the entire site, just in case Blue Host itself crashes.

    “We welcome new members that want to discuss daylilies, plant
material and gardening.  To join, new members must provide a full name
and address and email address, a chat name and a password.  The link to
joining us is, click on the Hemchat Room tab, then click
on the Register link.  Registration is not automatic.  I will receive the email
and will set up the name and password so the person can log in.  I then
email the person that the log in is ready.”  The is an ‘Ugliest Dog’ contest
and a ‘Chatter’s Favorite’ contest for seedlings.  Everyone that uses the
room is a fount of knowledge.  We each do our best to respect the opinions
of others.  Swearing, political and religious topics and flaming (personal
attacks) are not allowed and will get you quickly banned from the site.  Big
Chief Thundercloud (Sally’s persona as moderator) takes his job very
seriously.  The chat room is supported by member donations and out of Sally's
own pocket.

    “Willow Brook Acres is now an American Hemerocallis Society
Display Garden that grew out of a love of gardening and amazement with
the most interesting and beautiful perennial garden plant, the daylily.
Willow Brook Acres is a state licensed daylily nursery.”  Sally’s love of
gardening began 20 years ago.  The mowing takes less and less time as the
gardens continue to expand.  Her husband John is the head groundsman and
makes sure everything from mulching to edging to mowing is done and
everything runs as smoothly as possible.  Sally is the hybridizer.  She started
growing daylilies about ten years ago and as with so many others, the
obsession continues to grow.  Visitors to Willowbrook Acres in Norwalk,
Ohio will see over 1,000 registered daylilies and many other perennials.
The gardens were part of the region 2 2010 regional tours last summer.  “I
hope to downsize to about 500 very good daylilies I will use in my breeding
program.  I will no longer be selling older cultivars $10 or under.  It is hard
to let some of them go.  I just can’t take care of the amount I have been
taking care of for 15 years.  My total emphasis will be my dabbing and my

    Sally starts between 300 and 500 seeds per year, some from her own
breeding and some purchased from the lilyauction.  “I will have 2 intros for
2011.  My hybridizing program is small and it takes several years to
increase a daylily that is good enough to register.  I have a standard of 3 way
branching and 15 buds before I will register a daylily.  A reblooming
seedling gets some priority so if it is a few buds short of my standard, I
might still register it.”  Pat Stamile is one of her favorite hybridizers.  They
are widely available and it’s hard to beat a stamile for a pretty face.  But,
one of the most influential people on how Sally actually grows daylilies is
Rick Yost.  I have a large collection of Yost daylilies.  They are northern
hardy and well branched.  Rick is a long time chat member.  His influence
comes from sharing with me, and others, his vast knowledge of hybridizing
and growing daylilies.”

    To label crosses, Sally uses the paper string tags for the most part,
although colored wires are sometimes used for long crosses or planned
crosses.  Wires can get confusing and they also have a tendency to fade.
“When I harvest a ripe pod, I put it into a brown paper lunch bag.  I write
the pod parent on the outside of the bag.  The string tag is inside the bag
with the pod.  I keep the seeds, in it’s pod, in the bag for a day or two, or
more actually.  When I take the seeds out of the pods, I let them air dry in
the open bag over night.  Then I put all of one cross into a labeled, small,
plastic, Ziploc bag.  It is helpful to put a square of paper towel in with the
seeds.  It does absorb any extra moisture.  I put them in the refrigerator right
away.  They stay there until I plant them.”

    Sally loves wild flowers, herbs and nature.  If a plant brings colors
and textures and also attracts hummingbirds or butterflies to the garden,
then she probably wants to try growing it.  Zinnias are among her favorite
annual for the afore mentioned reason.  Blue Salvia, both perennial and
annual, also have a special place in the gardens.  While she does love hostas
and iris’, she prefers a more naturalized landscape.  “When something
appears in the garden, I will let it grow even if it’s not a cultivated plant.  I
once identified a common weed/wildflower called wingstem and tagged it
for identification purposes.  It is a tall, sturdy plant that grew perfectly
behind a daylily.”  To set it all off, Sally is also a Master Gardener and has
been for the last 10 years.  Master Gardeners are not masters of the garden.
They are volunteers in the community that are dedicated to gardening.  “We
are volunteers with knowledge.  Not the other way around.”  While she has
held office in the local group, her favorite place to be is in the dirt, helping
to beautify her town or working in a community garden.

    The advice Sally would like to give to beginning hybridizers is to
“Just Do It.  Don’t wait until you know it all or have the best plants.  It is all
about loving the daylily and making new ones.  If you have the passion, do

    Sally’s website is you can find sales
plants and her introductions and seedlings there.  Visitors are welcome by
appointment or you can take your chances that the couple will be around
and just stop by before dark.  We all look forward to seeing new members i
the chat room.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meet Region 2 President Nikki Schmith

Nikki Schmith

Hail to the chief, or at least the American Hemerocallis Society Region 2 President Nikki Keeton Schmith.  Nikki has a background in secondary education, theater/performance and political science, all of which she uses in her day to day life.  If she’s not at her day job as a corporate trainer and education specialist at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn,  Michigan, then she may be tending to her small urban garden with it’s 250 registered daylilies and assorted perennials.  If she’s not there, then perhaps she’s chasing after her triathlete husband Steve and their 5 year old son or maybe she’s on her computer writing her blogs ‘A Girl and Her Garden’ and the 'Region 2 Presidents Blog' or working on her next, Thursday daylily haiku.  Still haven’t found her?  Then maybe she’s at a daylily convention or speaking at a club or designing her next entry in a flower show.  If you haven’t caught on yet, Nikki Schmith is one busy girl and she likes it that way.

Nikki fist started growing daylilies about 20 years ago.  She was attracted their registered names, the stories behind them and the little personalities they all seemed to have.  Once she saw how easy they were to grow, she was hooked!  At this point she grows somewhere around 250 registered cultivars on a postage stamp sized lot in Detroit, Michigan, every year testing out new plants to see what does well in her garden and donating or selling what doesn’t.  Beyond daylilies, Nikki is also really into miniature hostas, true lilies (especially the uber fragrant orientals and orientpets) and container gardening.  She approaches container gardening like she does gardening in the ground, just on a much, much smaller scale.  If you haven’t seen it yet, look at her fairy garden pictures.

Not only that, but she does a bit of dabbing also.  “Currently, I’m growing 125 selected seedlings of my own.  This number helps me keep the collection under control.  If I want to save another seedling, I have to find one to get rid of.  I cull about 30 a year and I have been growing seed for about 6 years.  My first seedlings (if they are even worthy of being called seedlings) bloomed in the summer of 2004.  It makes the process much easier to have a set number of seedling to stick to when evaluating.  I’d like to do some community good with the money that can be made selling any registered plants I would ever put out to market.  I’m still cooking up a plan to make that happen when I’m ready to introduce some daylilies.”

 Nikki hybridizes for better show flowers, trying to get colors that stay saturated and true both inside and outside.  Substance also has to be able to hold up to being inside or out, something that won’t melt in either environment.  “Using plants like H. ‘Momentum,’ H. ‘Bittersweet Holiday,’ H. ‘See Me Feel Me Touch Me,’ H. ‘Pink Cotton Candy,’ H. ‘Butter Cream’ and H. ‘Martha In Chains’ are getting me closer to what I’d like to see in the seedling bed.”  Mostly she just tries to do her own thing, staying away from the trends of teeth, blue eyes or patterns, which by the way are some of my favorites.  “I just want a hearty and hardy plant with an uncomplicated face that can stop a clock.” She says.  A great daylily is one that you see and love instantly.  “I am drawn to full-formed, extra large flowers that are not spiders or unusual forms.  Flowers that are excellent "show flowers" tend to catch my attention, too.  This means they have wonderful branching, sturdy scapes, a tendency to have more than one bloom open on a scape, saturated color and thick substance.”

She is very interested in the earlier, female, hybridizers such as Sikes, Peck, Spalding, Hansen and Henry.  “In my mind's eye I place them chronologically in the history of the United States and find that with everything "going on" in our country and in our homes during their lifetimes, it is amazing to me they kept hybridizing and introducing daylilies despite pressure to be traditional or otherwise.”  We need to get hybrid daylilies back into the good graces of the general public, raise awareness about what amazing garden plants they are, inform people that they’re not just short gold’s and tall oranges.  We need to raise daylilies out of elitism.

As for how one becomes president of the largest region of the AHS, for Nikki Schmith it was as easy as being asked and then accepting.  There is a two consecutive term limit on regional presidency, although after one term off, an individual could run again.  “I feel a sense of duty to the AHS, and this is another way I can help promote our mission and vision.”  As president, Nikki was instrumental in getting a new regional website built and restructuring the AHS Media Library, the use of online storage for several AHS functions, rewriting the AHS Judging Handbook and the standardization and creation of the Power Point presentation used for the Exhibition Judges Clinic I.  She says this about the AHS, “Like any almost-all volunteer organization, change takes time.  I am very encouraged by the bright thinkers and really, really, sharp volunteers that staff the AHS committees.  Sure, there is a wish list eight miles long of things we could do, should do, ought to do, but in AHS board meetings I’ve attended, projects get prioritized and completed to the best of our ability.  Are they the right ones, well, who knows, but if I don’t like the direction, the only recourse I have is to PICK UP MY PADDLE AND HELP THE BOAT GO IN ANOTHER DIRECTION.  I would like to see more folks who comment on the robin or in smaller forums or personal blogs step up and actually take a committee position.  There is lots of good rhetoric, and I'd like to see an equal amount of actual sweat put into some of the keyboard comments that are lobbed and thrown about.  Writing about an issue is easy, working toward a real result with your name on the list of responsible parties is a bit harder.”  

Nikki is chairing the 2011 Region 2 Summer Meeting in Troy, Michigan, July 15-17 and would like to invite everyone to attend.  There will be several open garden tours, scheduled garden stops, exhibition judge workshops, an off-scape daylily exhibit, live auction and the key note speaker will be Jamie Gossard of Heavenly Gardens.  That website can be found here .  If you’d like to read more about Nikki or start following her blog, that link can be found here

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meet Karol Emmerich of Springwood Garden

    When you think northern hardy, fancy edged purples, what hybridizer pops into your
head?  If one of the first isn’t Karol Emmerich of Springwood Gardens, then she should
be.  Karol attended the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, graduating in
the top ten percent of her class in 1971.  At that time the plans she and her husband Dick,
whom she met at Northwestern and married in 1969, had made for their live didn’t
involve daylilies in any shape or form.  Instead, they had planned to work really hard and
save all of  their money for five years and then move to California to spend their lives
raising five children and doing nonprofit work while managing the couples money.  That
didn’t exactly happen either.  Karol ended up running the financial operations for the
headquarters of the Dayton Hudson Corporation, now known at Target.  “At that time I
had no clue there was an American Hemerocallis Society or something called hybridizing.
But I did know that working in my garden on weekends was a wonderful stress reliever
from the corporate world. I had a great job (money, power, fame, etc) but was profoundly
bored, as the job just didn't encompass enough of who I was as a person. I felt God was
calling me to do something different with my life.”
Filled To Overflowing (2004)

    While the decision to leave the corporate world for the less stable horticulture
world was never easy, but once made She never looked back.  In 1993, she left Dayton
Hudson and spent the next few years doing volunteer work and establishing the 1.5 acre
garden in Edina, Minnesota.  Setting her own agenda and being her own boss are just two
of the reasons she loves what she does now.  The other is more spiritual, “I feel like I've
found my real calling in life - creating beauty by developing flowers (and gardens) that
bring joy to people and put a smile on their faces.”  Karol didn’t sell her first daylilies
until 2003, although she started hybridizing several years previous.  “It’s like being in the
wine business: It takes years and years and years to build your vineyard up before you
actually produce good wine,” she said.
Woman At The Well (2005)

    Gary Schaben was the one who encouraged her to first try her had at hybridizing,
as he did with many other people in that area of Minnesota and beyond.  Around the same
time the club she belonged to had Dan Trimmer as a speaker and he spent several hours
before the meeting giving her advice.  Karol’s main inspiration began and continues to be
Larry Grace, the two of them spending countless hours talking about everything daylily.
She spent three months a year, for three years apprenticing with Larry in his Alabama
Blood Sweat and Tears (2006)

    The goal Karol has strived to acheive from the very beginning was to create
beautiful, stop you in your tracks flowers with interesting or thought provoking
inspirational names.  “ I wanted to create 6-7", easy opening, loosely formed, northern
hardy purples with fancy edges. Before I'd ever seen a seedling bloom, I daydreamed of
millions of people all over the country seeing my special flowers at their local nursery and
taking them home.”  Since the beginning only beautiful, color saturated flowers eluded
the compost heap, which makes the following generations easier to use in hybridizing for
great color, being built upon for so many generations.  While purple remains the primary
focus, lavenders, rose and hot pink also make the list.  “ I believe you should go where
the flowers take you, which is much more interesting than anything I could dream up on
my own. I'm now getting lots of interesting echo patterns, white swords and even a
fleur-de-lis, plus neon lavender and neon pink eyes. I'm crossing them with each other to
see what might happen next.”
Moses In The Bullrushes (2007)

    Karol does her hybridizing in a greenhouse, filling it up with approximately 250
of the previous years seedlings, current and prior introductions, a few intros from other
hybridizers and about 5,000 new seedlings.  “I walk the aisles waiting for a flower to
"talk" to me, saying "choose me, choose me." If I hear its call that day, I pick it and carry
it past each of the flowers in bloom, matching it with the colors and forms and patterns of
the other flowers to see what will work the best.”  Occasionally, plants with low bud
counts will be used as bridge plants if they’ve got amazing habit or if it has a killer face
with colors or pattens that are new to her.
Entwined In The Vine (2008)

    With 20,000 seedlings planted near the house and another 13,000 across the street,
they’ve just about reached the limit in terms of keeping them weeded, mulched and
evaluated.  The couple is now working on finishing the courtyard in the front of the house
and doing extensive hardscaping on the northern side of Springwood.  “The daylilies and
Springwood take up most of my mental, physical, and emotional energy. They capture so
much of who I am as a person, and include: hybridizing, evaluating, advising other
hybridizers throughout the year, running the spring fling and other science meetings in
our area, acting as a tour guide at Springwood in the summer, serving as region 1
president, serving on our local board, being on the regional tour this summer and the
national in 2013 (and serving as co-chair), speaking, attending symposiums, blogging,
doing a website and catalogue, shipping, weeding and watering and fertilizing and insect
control, supervising helpers,  hanging out with daylily friends, and developing the
grounds and house at Springwood.”
Cloud Of Witness (2009)

    While the hybridizing is done under controled conditions, the actual growing and
evaluating is done au naturale.  Springwood Gardens is in USDA zone 4, positioned on
top of a hill, providing it’s own special problems.  The constant winter wind blows away
the protective blanket of snow.  “The winters can be brutal. For example, I often need a
blowtorch to unfreeze the lock on the greenhouse. And once, I even got trapped in the
greenhouse for a while when the doors froze shut. Because I live 30 miles away from the
greenhouse in the winter, I'm always anxious when it is super cold or snowy. Although I
have an alarm that will call me if there's a problem, it's still stressful not to be there all the
time. In a couple of years we'll be moving out to Springwood full time, so I'll definitely
sleep better then”
Cup Of Cold Water (2010)

    Per year, approximately 25,000 seeds are made, but only 4,500-5,500 are actually
planted.  “ I usually introduce 12-22 a year, and have a large number waiting to be
introduced. It's hard to estimate what percentage make it to introduction. In some crop
years it's very few.  In a really good year I suppose it might work out to be 1 out of
100-200 that make the cut. The goal is to obviously make the plants better and better so
that the percentage improves.”  Ideally, to be worthy of registration a particular plant
should be recognizable in any garden you go to, have high bud count, be super hardy,
have great branching, amazing colorand northern rebloom.  “In certain cases I will
introduce something with 15 buds rather than 25 if it is a real break. Or something with a
flaw (like some spotting) that is a hybridizing giant. Or a gorgeous flower with super
plant habit that has a similar face to something from the south that won't grow in the
north.  Or a northern rebloomer with great plant habit and a pretty but not drop dead
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (2010)

    Springwood Gardens is open at any time of day by appointment, during bloom
season.  The website can be found here
Karol's blog can be found here property is not only filled with stunning flowers, but the bronze statuary are worth viewing also.  Another interesting article written about Karol Emmerich can be found here
    Congratulations Karol on your an Award of Merit for Heartbeat of Heaven.
Heartbeat Of Heaven (2005)





Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meet Don and Nancy Eller of Eller's Sunshine Garden

     Don and Nancy Eller, of Eller's Sunshine Garden in Leesburg Georgia, began their love
affair with daylily hybridizing just ten short years ago.  Their real life love affair started
many years before.  It was 1966 when Don and Nancy first met in highschool and they
were married just a year later in October of 1967.  After highschool, both Don and Nancy
attended college.  Don graduated with a masters degree in Ag. Engineering from the
University of Tennessee, while Nancy became an English major.  Don got a job with John
Deere right after graduation and retired as a Territory Representative.  Nancy was fortunate
enough to be able to stay at home to be a full time mother.
You Quack Me Up (D. Eller 2004)

    On Mothers Day in 1996, Don brought home their first daylilies from a local flea
market for $1.00 per fan.  These few daylilies were the spark of a daylily addiction, which
only seems to increase year after year.  Four years later, in 2000, Don first tried his hand
at hybridizing with Nancy following along a year or two later.  Don’s first five
introductions came in 2004 followed by Nancy’s first introductions a year later in 2005.
Pat Bonner (N. Eller 2006)

    As anyone who is familiar with the couples introductions, Nancy’s love is
doubles.  She says, “When we lived in Middle TN, I grew hybrid tea roses. When we
moved to SW GA in 1992, I planted perennials (hydrangeas, peonies, camellias, etc.). As
we became more involved in daylilies, the doubles form drew me in because they
reminded me of my roses and the other perennials I grew. I love the full round doubles
with lots of substance (the petaloids have to be thick to withstand our summer heat) --
they must double at least 90% of the time or they get composted. If the daylily is
exceptional in some other way -- super branching, unusual eyes, unique colors -- they
may be used as bridge plants. I also love hose in hose forms and edges and teeth. I love
edges and teeth on doubles. Since I am getting older and have back problems, I have been
breeding for taller doubles with better branching so I don't have to bend so far to
hybridize.”  While Don’s addiction has taken him more toward full formed, round
blooms.  “To me, the sepals are just as important to a beautiful bloom as the petals. The
larger and flatter the bloom the better, and I’m looking to increase scape height. I love the
pastel colors, but feel that has been overdone, I am working in darker colors with more
complicated color patterns.”
Phantom Duck (D. Eller 2007)

    Their hybridizing methods are the same, even though the results couldn’t be more
different.  The blooms from the pollen parents are picked the evening before and stored in
the cooler so they have fresh pollen to use.  Although they do store some pollen in the
freezer to use very early in the season.  All crosses are marked with colored wires.  Seeds
are planted in late July and early August, after a short drying period in the house.  No
seeds are over wintered in the refrigerator.  “We do not carry seeds over winter so I use
mother nature's method of seeds from the pod to the ground if at all possible. I don't think
we can improve on mother nature.” says Don.   Nancy and Don try to stay true to
themselves and what they love when hybridizing.  Don said, “I do not want to intro
something that I think is just like someone else's intro. I don't try to hybridize with the
market in mind, but look at it from my view point. I am who I am hybridizing for, trying
to come up with something that excites me.” and Nancy agrees completely.
Deranged Duckling (D. Eller 2008)

    The couple credit Larry Grace as being one of their biggest inspirations and
mentor.  Don and Larry share similar tastes in daylily forms and colors and a love of
diploid conversions, which Don spends his winters doing.  Nancy said, “even though he
didn't do doubles, Larry gave me the best advice on what to look for and what was
important in advancing daylilies.”  She also include David Kirchoff to her list of
influences “David Kirchhoff's doubles played a very important part in my program -- his
doubles always double for me. He was always eager to share his knowledge of doubles
with me and always seemed happy to see me when we visited Daylily World in FL.”
Perchance To Dream (N. Eller 2009)

    When it comes to running the garden, Don is chief weeder and garden slave in
addition to his hybridizing program.  Nancy has her own program and takes care the
secretarial aspects including; photography, running the website, handling sales and layout
of the catalogue.  Nancy’s favorite part of daylilies is hybridizing, “I would dab pollen all
spring and summer but there usually comes a time when Don forcibly makes me stop. I
am always sad when hybridizing season is over but then the new seedlings start to bloom
and I am lost all over again.”  As with all gardens there drawbacks and benefits.  Being
located in southern Georgia means hot summers and mild winters.  The winters allow
them to work in the garden all the time, but it gets so hot in the spring and summer,
setting pods becomes near impossible.  All hybridizing must be done in the very early
morning.  Rust is also a problem and they implement an aggressive spraying program.
Gnats are also a huge nuisance, getting into noses, ears, eyes and drawing blood.
Duck University (D. Eller 2009)
     Not only do they share a love of daylilies, hybridizing and each other, they share also
hybridizing plants.  “We each have our own hybridizing beds. The select seedlings are in different beds, the doubles in one area and my singles in another. This makes evaluation much easier during bloom season, plus we use a lot of select seedlings in our breeding programs. It seems each year we use more of our own lilies and less of other hybridizer's lilies. Yes- we do share pollen and plants. We have a well planned
program, if it is a double, it is Nancy's and if it is a single, it is mine, regardless who
hybridized it.”  Nancy adds, “Don has introduced plants with my doubles in the pedigree
and I have some with Don's singles in the pedigree.”
Duck Duck Flamingo (D. Eller 2009)

    The advice they would offer to amateur hybridizers is  pick a form that you love,
buy a few of the best plants on the market and do not try to get too big. A thousand
varieties does not a great hybridizer make. If you really want to get serious, learn
conversion techniques and select plants to convert that will help advance your program.
Don't try to compete with the big boys, just do your thing.  
Quackers And Cheese (D. Eller 2010)

    Both Don and Nancy are available for presentations.  Don has two programs, one
is on his hybridizing program and the other is on ‘Conversion Techniques For Dummies’.
Nancy’s is on her breeding program and is called ‘Double My Pleasure, Double My Fun’.
The garden is open to visitors, where you’ll see more than 900 of the newest and best
daylilies or all forms and colors.  The website for Eller’s Sunshine Garden can be found

Congratulations to Nancy on winning 2009 Hybridizer Of The Year.

Bubba Duck (D. Eller 2010)

Memories Of Treva (N. Eller 2011)    JC Award Winner 2010

Pink Sugar Delight (N. Eller 2010)

Silence Of The Duck (D. Eller 2010)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet Bob Faulkner

Bob Faulkner and Rachel Lambertson

This has been a very difficult entry for me to write.  Anyone who has seen one of Bob's presentations or read anything has written, has realized that he has an outstanding way of describing his world.  I don't feel that I could have taken what Bob wrote and translated it into my own words and come away with the same picture.  So, even though this is the lazy way, here is my interview with Bob Faulkner, unedited  in his own words.
1. Do you have another job? If not what did you do before?
Ans—I retired from Hobart Corporation in 2008 after working there in the National
Service, Technology Center for 30 years. Before that I worked at Sears Department Stores
for 13 years. I sold shoes (before Al Bundy)…I would come home at night and my hands
would smell like feet.  I helped decorate the windows …that was a huge learning
curve…I didn’t even know colors had to match…I worked in the maintenance
department, the display department, the sign shop and in sales….all things that helped me
later on in life.
   The shoe department was on the main floor of a 3 floor building and right next to the
escalator.  I remember people getting their totes stuck in the steps and having them tear
right off their feet, I remember a 90 year old lady trying her best to run up the down
escalator, her wig was bobbing up and down on her head. One day a lady said she needed
a pair of sneakers, so she grabbed her left leg, twisted it off and handed it to me: “if the
left shoe fits this, then the right one will fit too.”  Customers on either side of her gasped.
Sales was interesting to say the least.
   I worked part time at a liquor store, keeping the goods stocked, I worked in a nursery
doing custom orders for customers and sales….and I worked at a small grocery just
around the corner from my house to put myself thru college.

2. When did you first discover daylilies?
Ans—We always had a clump of ‘lemon’ lilies by the back door when I was child, but I
didin’t know they were actually daylilies…they were very species looking but had a
fragrance.  Once I bought my childhood home and began to collect plants, my Uncle gave
me several clumps of his very old daylilies. They were pretty but would bloom in a flush
for about 2 weeks and be over for the year. 
   I was learning to amend the soil and I had removed all the perennials from my front bed
which was 10 feet by 80 feet, and was adding copious amounts of coarse sand to loosen
up the hard clay soil.  A friend stopped by and noticing my ‘old’ daylilies he told me that
I really needed to get some new ‘hybrid’ daylilies.  “They are much prettier, bloom longer
and are just all-around a better choice for your display bed.” Well, I didn’t know what
‘hybrid’ meant and was kind of interested, but where would I find those?  So we took a
trip to a local hybridizers’ yard.  The guys’ name was John Benz and he had a riot of
unusual daylilies like I had never seen before. One really grabbed me, it had two colors on
it…imagine!  He told me it was rather new and was a named daylily called “Fooled Me.”
Man, I’d love to have a start of that……John said; “I can get you a start for $50.”
   $50!!!!!  Well, once I picked myself up off the ground, I told him I didn’t think I was
ready to pay that much for any flower, or tree…Thanks anyhow.  I thought to myself,
“what’s wrong with someone who thinks a flower is worth that much money.?”   Are they
   On the one hour trip back home I told Mike that rather than pay someone all that money
for a daylily that I will just grow my own from seed. I have two acres of good soil, why
should I pay someone else that much money when I can do it myself for a lot less.  So that
was my snap decision that led me into hybridizing.

3. What drew you most to the patterns you’ve become known for?
Ans—Good question. That next year I started buying some very inexpensive daylilies
from a close-by hybridizer, Dave Jackson. He was very helpful, friendly, had a ton of
named varieties and sold me my first ever named daylily. He said if I was going to
hybridize I needed a good one and he recommended one named “Always Afternoon.”  So
I bought it along with some seedlings he would part with. I made a nice bed for them and
that was my beginning.
   The first three years was spent learning all the details of hybridizing, following all the
instructions and warnings that I read from any magazine (including the AHS Journal) and
just getting my feet wet into daylilies.  I would do all the careful crosses, no purple to
yellow, no big to little, no eyes to selfs…and after 3 years I was really bored with what I
was getting. 
   Begin a member of the AHS I would get several catalogs from hybridizers, (this was
before the internet was a big sales tool) and I would look at what they had and realize that
my daylilies were falling way short.  But another interesting thing was that when I would
see a ‘pattern color’ daylily I would think to myself, that’s the best one in the book!  Or I
would go on short trips and visit hybridizers and if they had a pattern seedling I would be
much more turned on by it than anything else in the beds.
   So in 1999 I had a light-bulb moment.  Why in the world don’t I just try and grow pattern
color daylilies? I like those the best, it would be worth the effort and maybe I’ll get some
daylilies that I really like. Nobody had ever done just patterns before, so It was
frightening to throw all my eggs into one basket, but I thought I’d either have great
success or nobody would ever know me.  But at least I would follow my passion.  Three
things I thought that the pattern color needed were (1). The pattern was so small in those
days, maybe the size of a quarter, so I needed to work on making the pattern larger, (2)
the flower needed to be flat and not trumpet shaped. A flatter flower will show more of
the pattern and (3) the sepals needed to show as much as the petals, because if the pattern
on the sepals could not be seen, it would take away from the appearance of the flower.  So
those 3 goals were what I had in mind when I started to work towards pattern colors in

4. What other forms/styles do you enjoy?
Ans--I’ve learned that I look at things with an artistic bent. So to me a flower needs to
have some kind of symmetry to get my attention.  Now that symmetry can come from the
entire plant and not just a bloom, for instance a nice unusual form may not have a very
symmetrical flower, but if  the entire clump has a kind of symmetry that is very pleasing
to the eye, I could like that.  I love good color, I love good contrast. Big is good, small is
good…long as they are pretty to me, I like them.  My biggest criticism is a dirty
background color. So many new intros are dirty…..if you would check the muddy pinks
against a nice orchid for instance and you will quickly see how bad the color might just
be.  A big edge isn’t the entire flower, nor is huge wide petals that hide the sepals. I look
at the whole flower.  Of course like in anything there might be an exception.  The reason I
stick mostly with pattern colors is the fact that it takes so much time and energy to just do
one area well.  I might take on another at some time, if I feel I can handle the work load.
So far that isn’t the case.
5. What other hobbies or plant loves do you have?
Ans—That’s an easy question. I try to limit myself to only those things that contain
chlorophyll.  I love plants, period. When I was a very little kid I can remember being in
awe at a plant, to watch it grow and get larger and bloom was simply a miracle to me. I
couldn’t get enough of that.  I started with petunias from seeds, I would grow them at the
edge of our vegetable garden. Then I would walk back into the woods and find unusual
trees and shrubs and one by one move them into the yard. I am blessed enough to be
living at the house where I was born, so I still have some of those trees I planted when I
was a kid.  One blue-spruce which I bought thru the mail for a dollar is now 60 feet tall.  I
collect rare and unusual perennials, weeping trees, I have a collection of unusual
Magnolias, 6 horse chestnut trees, a raft of rare and interesting conifers and lots in
   I also raise and show pigeons, baldhead rollers to be more exact.  I’ve had pigeons since I
was nine years old. I’ve learned so much about genetics, line-breeding, inbreeding and
color inheritance techniques from doing pigeons all these years that it was a rather simple
transition to daylilies using some of the same practices.  To not know basic genetics it to
do many more crosses than you would ever need to. I recommend to anyone to study
genetics for a while, go on line and look up some things about dominant and recessive,
dilute and primary colors…and other genetic factors.  It’s wildly interesting and valuable
to any hybridizer.
   If you go to study mutations in daylilies for instance…you will be hard-pressed to find
much information about where all our breaks originated. You can research pigeons and
find out where every mutation occurred, how it was obtained and more important, how to
go about getting it in your own line.

6. What do you feel makes a daylily worthy of registration?
Ans—Because the AHS has no standard for daylilies; what they should look like, how
they should perform, plant habit….it makes this question so subjective.  And I really
don’t think they should have a standard.  
Each person seems to have their own slant on this, and that is what makes this hobby so
interesting and so varied.
Having said that, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would think the number one quality would be that
it thrives well….at least in its own territory.
Number two is that it is pretty to look at. For a hybridizer you might need to add distinct
from any other daylily available. But then distinct is subjective too.
Going on from there…lots of blooms over an extended period of time.   Then, for a hybridizer it needs to be fertile, at least one way…for a gardener this wouldn’t
be an issue.  Other conditions would be disease resistant…weather resistant…sun resistant.  Blooms above the foliage would be pretty important…height is again so subjective. When
I began in the early 90’s for instance, hybridizers would cull anything that was too tall.
The daylily of that period had to have its blooms setting just above the foliage.  That trend
has all but died and now tall is very important to lots of people.  Given enough time I
imagine that we will see that reverse itself, or least moderate in the next 5-10 years.
   How fast it multiplies is important, unless you want the value to stay high, then a slow
increaser would be good.  “Angels’ Smile” would be the consummate example of this.
Introduced a long time ago, it still holds its value due to how slowly it increases.
   Taking all these qualities into consideration, for me then the most important thing for a
daylily to be worthy of introduction is that it has little resemblance to one already

7. What are your hybridizing, tagging and storage methods for seeds?
Ans—I use the white paper hang tags for marking my crosses.  Some people don’t like
them because they fall apart before the seeds are ripe. If you go to Office Depot, they
carry a ‘heavier’ version of hang tags that will hold up well all summer. The paper is
   I am finally deep enough that almost on any given day I can use fresh pollen to hybridize
with.  There are some flowers I want to use that aren’t blooming that day, so I use frozen
pollen from them. 
   Seeds are stored in small zip-lock baggies in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. I
don’t dry them, they go right in from the pod.  Perennial seeds need a little moisture to get
thru the storage period, especially in zone 5 where they get stored for nearly 6 months
before planting.  I go thru them once during the winter to remove any moldy seeds from
the bag.  It’s been my experience that a seed molds because it wasn’t good to begin with,
although it felt like it at the time.  Mold does not spread fast to other seeds, so you can
wipe them off and they are good to go until planting time.

8. Where would you like to see your line go?  Daylilies in General?  The AHS?
Ans—My goal has been all along to have the most beautiful pattern daylilies that ever
existed. Adding to that, I would love to produce one day a pattern that will be a great
enough plant to be a standard in landscapes…the “Stella D’Oro” of patterns.  Another
goal is to consistently produce daylilies that when purchased by others will produce a
wonderful line of flowers for them, and will be beautiful to look at and totally hardy. To
know that you made an impact long after you have left is a lofty and important goal to
   In general I think daylilies will not need my help in where they should go.  The public
already has dictated to us that they aren’t so keen on the newest and greatest thing to
come out of a hybridizers’ yard.  There are two schools of thought. One is the value a
daylily has to another hybridizer….the second is the value a daylily has to a petunia
   Supply and demand will always dictate where the daylily goes. We can’t ‘advertise’ our
daylilies enough to make the average gardener want to pay a lot for them.  The average
gardener will obtain daylilies when they are old enough to be affordable and pretty
enough and hardy enough to be a flower they look forward to seeing each and every year
in their own landscape….like an old friend. 
   As far as where I would like to see the AHS go….I believe they are already making
strides in some areas. For instance, when I first became interested in daylilies the AHS
seemed like an “Avatar” World somewhere out there in Pandora, which would take 5
years of suspended flight in total unconscientousness to become a part of.  Already I feel
the past few years have greatly changed that perception. It seems much easier now to be a
part of the team and to be counted, whereas before, it seemed like one had be a part of an
in-crowd in order to be heard. It was quite frustrating to think that one just didn’t have a
voice. I think some still believe that, but if they will put an effort into assisting the AHS,
even thru local clubs, whatever it is, they won’t go un-noticed for very long.  The AHS is
mainly volunteers and any help we can give them is so much more appreciated than you
can ever imagine.  I challenge anyone to give it a try. 
   I do think the AHS Editor and team could do themselves a big favor by finding a way to
make even more voices count. Perhaps a ‘letter from readers’ section where the good and
the bad could be aired out.  It is much easier to keep members, even frustrated ones, if
they feel their voice is at least heard by someone who cares.
   I think another good idea would be if when the local clubs have a flower show,  that they
advertise in the local paper.  There lie a vast number of plant lovers who troll all the
nurseries and catalogs looking for something different, new and exciting to add to their
landscape. I run into people like this everywhere….but 99% of them would never had an
idea that there was such a thing as a daylily show.  Advertising is cheap and if it would
bring in one more member, it would be money well spent. 
   I still think a seedling contest for the entire membership would be quite interesting,
especially in the winter months…but the details would be a difficult thing to iron
out…plus the cost.
Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (2011)

9. Who would you consider a major influence in your program? Why?
Ans—all former hybridizers in one way or another have been an influence in my
hybridizing…Shirley Farmer would always drill into us the fact that “we all stand tall on
the shoulders of those who came before us.” I would like to have a more flowery answer,
but I don’t.  Liz Salter for pattern color was certainly an influence, Pauline Henry for
form and consistency was a major inspiration…but there are many I have admired in the
past and many going on right now that are inspirations. I am more drawn to a hybridizer
who is kind, sharing, fun and down to earth, than any of those who need to brag on their

My mentor in plants in general is a local friend, Mike Walters who is the most well
informed and intelligent plant person I have ever met. When we visit nurseries he usually
teaches the Nursery Owners something about plants. It is his influence that showed me
how to grow plants, how to prepare the soil, the importance of water and the importance
of learning botanical names.  Everyone should have a friend like Mike. I call him the
walking encyclopedia.
Dish Ran Away With The Spoon

10. Who else helps with the daylilies?
Ans---when it comes to gardening in general, I think most people find it very difficult to
find anyone who wants to just come over and do yard work.  I have some help…Tom
Polston for instance…but mostly I do the work myself. This summer when I developed a
bad case of pneumonia, I had several people, including relatives come over and help me
line out my daylilies and move my select seedlings. If it hadn’t been for them it would not
have been done in any timely manner.  I’m happy that I can still do most of the work and I
believe it keeps me fit to boot.

11. What are the unique challenges or benefits of growing where you are?
Ans—I really do think that our zone 5 is one of the best zones in which to grow daylilies.
I hear horror stories from others around the country fighting rust, rot, armadillos, wide
drops in temperatures, lack of rain etc.  We hardly ever experience any of those things.
The daylilies like the 4 equal seasons pretty well.  I think the biggest challenge for a
hybridizer in this area is to get adequate increase of a daylily in a fairly quick amount of
time.  That to me is the biggest drawback, but in light of all the other challenges, I can
surely live with that.

12. What are your talks/presentations about?
Ans---my talks are about goals, dreams, challenges and how to’s of hybridizing daylilies.
That is topped off with nice photos of my work.  I love doing talks, I really enjoy meeting
the different daylily enthusiasts all around the country…the AHS is very blessed to have
such a large number of quality people everywhere….it is a dream for an organization to
be that fortunate.  I love answering questions and I also really enjoy the enthusiasm that
giving a presentation seems to bring about.

13. Display beds or lined out rows?
Ans—display beds for show….lined out rows in the hybridizing areas.

14. Any Horticultural background?
Ans---nothing that comes with a certificate.  I’ve been growing plants my entire life, and
learning. I’ve never attended a session other than at daylily functions.  Although the
corporate standard today is that you don’t have a title unless it comes with written proof,
a hundred years ago, you just ‘were’ because that’s what you did….and everyone knew it.
Funny how things and technology change.

15. Advice for amateur hybridizers/growers?
Ans---Well, I get this question a lot.  Funny how it sounds like a great question, and
interestingly enough, you would think people would lean on every word, but that’s
usually not how it plays out at all.  What I find is that most people enjoy hearing your
advice, then when they get to their own back yard, they will do it their way anyhow.
   So I think that experience is the best teacher..honestly.  “Good judgement comes from
experience, experience comes from bad judgment.”  And I’m the same way…the first
three years I hybridized I did everything people said you should….and the results were
terribly boring. The forth year I began to do unlikely crosses, yellows to purples, big to
little, and that’s the point at which I began to become a hybridizer.  You can’t possibly
know what works unless you find out what doesn’t work.  Edison did hundreds of light
bulbs before he did one that worked well.  Were the others a failure?  No; they were
learning tools.
   My advice is to listen, read and watch everything everyone does….then, when you get to
your garden, do what your instinct tells you.  If you learn to rely on your gut feeling (your
spirit) you will soon realize it will quickly gain an abundance of credit.