“This is the first good year we’ve had in I can’t remember how long. We’ve got a lot of good lilies out there,” said Lily Lane Farm owner Monte Hooper, who runs the farm along with his wife, Loni. “I get a lot people this time of year, tourists, who come in camera in hand going, ‘I’ve never seen so many lilies!’.”
Opened in 1998, Lily Lane Farm has evolved from a small, 60 plant bulb farm to a sweeping, one-acre daylily operation with over 200 varieties.
“We found that daylilies are extremely hearty,” Hooper said. “I don’t care if you have a black thumb; it’s really tough to kill them. Slugs don’t eat them – they’ll live in them, but they don’t eat them. Deer don’t particularly care for them unless there’s absolutely nothing else out there to eat or unless you plant it in a place where they’ve been eating something for the last ten years. They don’t get diseases, they’re drought tolerant, and they’re flood resistant.”
As a testament to the strength of the flowers, Hooper has an Emanuel daylily that grew in his gravel driveway on its own. He hasn’t touched it with fertilizer or water in seven years, yet bright, orange flowers grow healthily each summer.
There are about 125,000 named varieties of daylilies, according to Hooper. “We’ve got varieties that go from the size of the quarter to over a foot wide. Nearly white, nearly black, pinks, purples, oranges, reds, yellows, singles with single petals, doubles with two sets of petals, bicolors, tricolors, tall ones up to five feet tall, miniatures that get up almost to six inches. So, there’s such a range in daylilies that almost anyone can find something that they like.”
A specialist in daylilies, Hooper serves as an expert resource to those who want to know about his plants. “You come here, and you ask, ‘what can you tell me about this?’ – You’d better be ready for a story because I can tell you everything. I can tell you how quickly it grows, how tall it grows, and when the flowers really come on because I’ve got the dates written down.”
On a five page document, Hooper lists the variety, price, size, if it has single or double petals, and the blooming time of the last two years for all the flowers he has on the farm. “I track this information so when a customer is looking for a flower, they know when to look for it,” he explained.
“That’s something you don’t get at the mass nurseries. They can’t take the time to learn all the flowers,” Hooper said.
The predictably of daylilies is valued by gardeners, as the bloom approximately the same time every year. “So let’s say you’re a part time resident and you’ve got a cabin at the beach. You always come down the second and third week in July. Well, come by here the second and third week in July and you’ll see stuff blooming. Put those in your yard and every year when you come down they’re going to be blooming. The rest of the year, it doesn’t matter. You can’t kill them, nothing eats them, so you go away, you come back next year and they’re still there,” Hooper explained.
“We like the daylilies because they don’t need a lot of care. The biggest problem is when you have to separate them,” he said. As daylilies grow, they continue to spread and get larger, so they must be separated. “You get a plant that’s two and half feet across, so you peel it up out of the ground, take a shovel or an ax or a hand saw and you cut it into chunks, something that’s manageable, then you replant those.”
The lily farm creates bouquets and plant pots. They will also do flowers for weddings, but the flower selection depends on what they have growing at that particular time. The gift shop sells flower oriented gifts and antiques, as both Hooper and his wife have collected antiques during their travels around the world. The farm is open Friday through Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00 and Hooper can be reached on his Facebook, “Lily Lane Farm,” or on his cell phone at (360) 581-6184.