Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meet Cindy Dye of Homeplace Gardens

    ‘In passionate pursuit of the best’ is the motto of Ken and Cindy Dye of Homeplace Gardens, located in zone 7 Gastonia, North Carolina. Cindy’s mother and grandmother were both avid gardeners and that helped to encourage her love of all things green and growing. Ken’s mother was a collector of cactus and Cindy often jokes that she married Ken for his mothers greenhouse. Cindy married Ken at the age of twenty and spent fifteen years managing a retail pharmacy. The couple have now been married for 35 years and have two children, both sons and two granddaughters. Her first daylily was gifted to her in 1983, when she was 29, by one of the pharmacists she worked with. She soon joined a local daylily society where she met Van Sellers and Red Nolan. After returning to home after the first meeting she jokingly told Ken that she had joined a ‘Senior Citizen’ club. As with many of us with extensive collections, Cindy started with the cheaper, easily attainable hybrids, filling her new landscape with the myriad of colors available. A few years later, she began to dab a bit of pollen, eventually registering her first daylily in 1994. Four years later, in 1998, she hosted her first Regional Meeting and a National Convention in 2003. Cindy was eventually joined in hybridizing by Ken in 2000.

Tet Linda Gluck
      Cindy considers herself an ‘intuitive’ hybridizer, listening to others with more knowledge and experience and then using her own instincts to pursue her goals. These goals have changed as many times as daylilies themselves have. Currently she’s breeding for full sized, extra large flowers with patterned eyes and edges with teeth. Cindy prefers to use her own seedlings for line breeding and sibling crosses, only out crossing when another hybridizer creates an outstanding cultivar that she feels she needs in her lines. “No trade secrets here - just persistence and passion.” Cindy lists Van Sellers as one of the biggest influences on her daylily career lending his experience and advice. “How great to be mentored by a Stout winnter, says Cindy, Van was always “honest without being discouraging.”
Homeplace Angel Face
     1000 seeds are planted every year, this number is down from the usual 2000. “I like to think I am making smarter crosses and need less seed. Sometimes we will get 6 intros from those and sometimes 2. Its takes a lot to impress us now.” Seedlings take up residence in the gardens for three years before being culled since space isn’t an issue in the Dye garden. Seedlings to be used as bridge plants must exhibit at least one of the traits currently being bred for. As of right now She’s working on an eight inch, edge no eye diploid conversion, hoping to get it ready for registration soon. “ My best cultivar so far is the one that will bloom NEXT year!”

All Creation Sings
     Past favorites are the ones that people write to her about and send pictures of. Homeplace Cherry Face won Cindy her first Honorable Mention. All Creation Sings seems to be a customer favorite and is the one most often mentioned in customer emails. It has superb hardiness with a chicken fat edge that never seems to hang up and it won the Hybridizers Award for Region 15 in 2009. Another favorite is an unusual brown miniature with a green throat call Chaco Taco, Cindy says it’s a love it or hate it flower. To be considered registration worthy at Homeplace Gardens a seedling must exhibit good foliage, and a big helping of ‘pizazz‘. “It certainly does not hurt if visitors shed tears upon seeing it for the first time and ask to take their photograph standing beside it . But seriously, I ask myself, would I buy that and would I mind feeding, watering, mulching, deadheading, and dividing it in 100 degree heat? Its amazing how discriminating one can be in southern humidity.”

Homeplace Hot Shot
     Downsizing is the name of the game at Homeplace these days. At age 55, Cindy feels her energy would be better spent on hybridizing than on regular perennial borders. Only favorite cultivars and those used specifically designated for use in hybridizing are being kept. Less favorite daylilies are being replaced by low maintainence trees, shrubs and hardscaping. Both Sons used to help in the gardens and showed daylilies in the youth division, until they both grew to old to participate. While they’re both quite knowlegable about plants, they prefer fishing to daylilies. Her granddaughters have taken over the youth showings and have small collections of their own. Their names appear in several of the Dye’s registrations. Ken is the main garden helper these days and is a very good hybridizer himself. Along with daylilies the couple collects evergreen trees, sedums and unusual perennials, pushing the limits of their zone 7 garden by creating microclimates. Container gardens are placed throughout the borders, in direct line with the irrigation systems so they don’t have to be hand watered.

     When asked about how she would like to see the AHS proceed in the future, she said “I think the AHS should spend more resources on promoting daylilies in magazines,etc by advertising National Conventions the same way other flower shows advertise to the gardening public.” Cindy won the Region 15 Jeffcoat Hybridizers Award in 2009 and Ken later won it in 2010. The state inspected garden is open to the public in June by appointment only, since the couple attend so many national and regional conventions. The Website for Homeplace Gardens can be found here



  1. I truly enjoy meeting all these hybridizers that you post on your blog. Cindy has some lovely seedlings for sure

  2. So nice to see another's hybridizing work. Keep up the good work Cindy.