A History of Flourishing Daylilies
(The long form)

I took a weekend course in starting a backyard nursery in 2004. I had been through repeated layoffs: at Apple Computer, at Adecco when I wasn’t willing to move with HQ from California to New York, at a startup where being a training manager didn’t rank in the dot.com bust. My last employer, a nonprofit for whom I did editing and research, had run out of funds. I had daylilies from Home Depot, and they bloomed a lot and increased well, and I thought that would be a good plant to grow and sell. There was a photo in the text used in the course showing how a full pot of daylilies divided up to 9 plants; good deal! I started visiting local wholesale nurseries. One of them mentioned that there was a local grower named Bill Maryott. I called him, but he didn’t welcome visitors. My favorite on his website was Azure Violets, but it was $52, and that seemed expensive! I found the Lily Auction, and he was selling there at a discount, and I bought plants. I called again and asked if I could pick up the plants I bought. He had just let his helper go for coming to work drunk, and invited me over. In exchange for helping replant his field, he gave me about 2,000 cultivars he wasn't going to replant and showed me what he'd learned about operating a business (some things I don’t do the same; can’t make myself chop off the roots with an axe when I replant).  And he also infected me with the hybridizing bug. When I started, I lived twenty minutes from Bill. My husband, my son and I were renting a house near the top of a mountain overlooking Monterey Bay. I terraced that hillside (using Angel, the helper who still works for Bill and me; I now drive 2 hours each way to get his help). In the following years, we moved my thousands of daylilies four times: to another rental, to my mother’s house to care for her when she developed Alzheimer’s, after she died to another rental while searching for our current home. Until we bought our home in 2011 I grew my seedlings on other people’s properties. When caring for my Mom they were at a horse ranch a half hour away and out at the coast 45 minutes in the other direction. Before we tore down the collapsed barn at our new home and assembled a high tunnel greenhouse, we had moved my first 8’ x 10’ greenhouse from the first mountainside rental to two other places we lived, and enclosed two lattice-covered lanais (patios) with plastic film to have areas for hybridizing. The first 2 photos are of me in San Mateo, at my mother's house, with the old greenhouse behind me and the covered lanai to my side, and of my trusty helper Angel in Montara at the coast below San Francisco where we converted a sandy ring that used to be used for exercising horses into a field for seedlings (until recently he helped me about 2 days a a month, except during shipping season when it was a little more). My son Zeke helped me build the high tunnel greenhouse, and then later hooked up the fans inside; he also remodeled the second house on our property that we now rent out. In December 2013, my husband had a catastrophic stroke that left him paralyzed left side. He had helped me in the garden, but since his stroke, he needs help with everything. I grow named daylilies in pots, and he used to water them (no rain in California even in non-drought years from June to November); now I have all the pots on drip irrigation. Huzur was a musician, and is nocturnal, so I care for the daylilies during the day and for him at night (and try to catch a nap when I can). I am so grateful for my family, to have my daylilies and seedlings where I live, and now my 20’ x 36’ greenhouse is covered in polycarbonate (it was covered in film the first 4 years). The last pictures are from Google street views, Nov. 2007, May 2015, my photo taken May 31, 2016 with the remodeled house we rent out in the background (I like blue!), and a sunset from our backdoor (just two sets of train tracks between us and San Pablo Bay, the northern part of San Francisco Bay). We feel blessed to be here.

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