Garden Photo of the Day

Nancy’s daylilies in Wisconsin….LOTS of daylilies!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

Today’s photos are from Nancy Olson in Alma, Wisconsin. She says, “I have been seriously hybridizing daylilies for the last 10 years and have just returned from my first experience of attending the Hemerocallis Society’s Nationals and am still riding on high!

SOME OF TODAY’S BOUNTY, PHOTO TAKEN INDOORS. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

“Four hundred or so were in attendance and I had the privilege of meeting many people I had met over the internet daylily groups. The highlight for me should have been seeing all the other hybridizers’ plants and seedlings, but in truth it was meeting and spending time with a prominent, well-known, and respected hybridizer out of California named Bill Maryott. His enthusiasm and knowledged has spurred me on even more..that’s dangerous..I just turned 71 and was planning on a “shut-down” or at least a “slow-down” by age 77!

Seed gift from another hybridizer, took three years to bloom. ‘Toothy Mini’ Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

“People have asked me how many daylilies I have out in that field and I estimate between 20 and 30,000. More were planted but between vole damage and winter kill from the often-used southern genetics, and the horrible Summer Malaise we experienced last year, it is to be expected. It can take three years to get bloom for the first time, but sometimes you are fortunate and you get the first bloom after just one year up here in the “Northern Tundra” as so many daylily lovers have called it!

One-year-old seedling out of ‘GLORY OF THE RAINBOW’ X ‘Great Idea’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

“It can easily take seven years to get to the introduction/registration stage because we have to wait for enough increase to share with others. I jumped in and registered 21 of my seedlings last winter and introduced them to the dayliliy world at the same time. You will see notes on the pics that mention that.”

My son’s seedling out of his seedling ‘Neo’ X ‘VERTICAL HORIZON’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

WOW, Nancy!! So darned cool! Those daylilies are gorgeous, each and every one. You are a dedicated woman. Amazing. I cannot believe that I don’t own even one daylily. (I don’t count the orange ones you can find in a ditch….) I need to remedy that, ASAP!

My seedling out of two registered daylilies (‘MARS SOJOURNER’ X ‘WHITEBASE’). Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

I’ll say it again: This is prime time to take some photos in your garden. So get out there with your cameras and send some in! Email them to [email protected].

My seedling out of my first introductions (‘BIG SISTER’S LEGACY’ X ‘ABLAZE IN GLORY’). Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen
Lily auction purchase of unbloomed seedling (‘VIOLET TRANQUILITY’ X ‘LINDA SIERRA’) ‘Powder Blue’ garden name. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen
Lily auction purchase of unbloomed seedling (‘FREEDOM’S TRIUMPH’ X ‘GOD SAVE THE QUEEN’). Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen
‘GRACELAND’ seedling 3 X ‘GLORY OF THE RAINBOW’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen
Downtown Alma, Wisconsin commercial building “photo op”. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Nancy Olsen

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 07/31/2013

    hard work, dedication and lottsa good organizational skills. i'm amazed and i could feel your excitement reading your words. can't imagine having 30,000 of anything much less all that color at the same time. my g'mom always said: "we have to garden as if we will live forever" and i think the gpod people are proving her right

  2. arthurb3 07/31/2013

    Daylilies are wonderful plants!

  3. deeinde 07/31/2013

    Nancy, your daylilies are beautiful! Don't stop! :)

  4. flowerladydi 07/31/2013

    How fabulous Nancy!!!

    I love your enthusiasm,,,commitment and just pure love for what you do! They are gorgeous !,,,, So glad you got to experience the Lily Nationals ,,, you should be so proud! Congratulations!,,,, They are beautiful!!

  5. cwg 07/31/2013

    I love your daylilies Nancy, and I love daylilies....period! One just can't have too many!!! These "addiction" are the kinds of things that keep us young, (I'm 64). I say you go girl!! Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics.

  6. GrnThum 07/31/2013

    As my rather small garden has evolved, I've moved away from daylilies because they are big plants which take up lots of space, are fairly high-maintenance in mid-summer to keep them tidy, and, until this year, I thought they might be misplaced in this setting because everything in my current garden is designed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. But, if you're obsessed about butterfly photo ops, you wind up learning a lot about what plants butterflies use for nectaring. Imagine my surprise when I observed them diving right into my daylilies for a drink on numerous occasions. It takes a fairly big butterfly (think swallowtails) to reach into a daylily cup and come out satisfied, but it's happening in my garden. Daylilies are such showy plants, and I really love the re-bloomers!

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/31/2013

    big WOW, Nancy,your pictures are daylily-icious!! The second one showing the collection of multiple blooms is a parfait of gorgeousness. I am a huge daylily fan and I so admire and appreciate your interest in and patience for hybridizing. I love the evolving trends for the ruffled edges and dramatic contrasting colors in edges and eyezones. It's because of people like you that blow my budget and spend a little more than I planned when I go to a local daylily farm and just have to bring home varieties that have some of that extra pizzazz!

  8. tractor1 07/31/2013

    And here I thought Wisconsin is the cheese capital, go know daylilies are dairy! I'm thinking there has to be a better way to photograph daylilies for public display... this method is too anatomically salacious... okay for the botanists among us but I'd think a more angular presentation of groupings would be a lot more visually attractive presentation... just a suggestion. Nancy is doing fantastic work, obviously a labor of love, thank you for sharing.

  9. delancey 07/31/2013

    Beautiful, Nancy!
    I'm trying to watch the gardening budget this year, but these photos might lead to my undoing! I have some day lilies, but after seeing these lovelies, well, it's just obvious I need more. And that last shot of the lilies planted with the annuals is giving me ideas... And the garden centre does still have that sale on...
    I think the budget and I are in trouble.

  10. cwheat000 07/31/2013

    Nancy, your enthusiasm is contagious and your daylilies are stupendous. I need some more with those wonderful pie crust edges. The edges on the Glory of the Rainbow cross are amazing. I love the color contrast in your son's as well. That one would be a perfect intro for Michelle's purple garden ( hint, hint, Michelle; addicts like to push their drug, you know). There are a lot of named daylilies, so i have been able to collect ones named after all the members of my immediate family ( Carla, Matt, and Planet Claire -my daughter's name is Claire, not Planet Claire, but I thought that was close enough, lol) . I was also lucky enough to find ones with the same names as my 3 dogs who have passed. I have them planted where they are buried. I haven't found one named after my current dog, Sherman a.k.a. Doodles or my mom, Nancy. Have you named any of your seedlings Nancy or do you know of one? I hope you never stop gardening , Nancy. You make the world a prettier place.

  11. crizmo 07/31/2013

    Such beauty and abundance! How I would like to talk a walk through your lily patch.

  12. GrannyMay 07/31/2013

    Nancy, there is nothing dangerous about deciding to keep doing what you love, quite the opposite! It is passion and interest that make life worthwhile. Your passion for daylilies produces new and ever more beautiful plants for the rest of us plantaholics to covet. Thank you, and please keep it up!

  13. wGardens 07/31/2013

    I have enjoyed the fruits of your labors.... and love.... yes, looks like I need to get a few more daylilies too... I'll be looking for yours when they become available! Lovely!
    I also appreciate your enthusiasm!

  14. TeriCA 07/31/2013

    I am amazed! They are beautiful! And the accompanying article was very informative. How can you remember ALL the names?? I just designed a new front entry way about 30 feet in length winding to the front door, the first 1/3 will be lined with hybridized daylilies.... I'm forwarding this article to my client! Thank you for your dedication and your love of these plants...

  15. janeeliz 08/01/2013

    Your daylilies are very beautiful, Nancy. One of my favorite morning chores this time of year is dead-heading my daylilies....and admiring each new lovely flower. Ofcourse, I don't have thousands! Keep up your wonderful work as long as you enjoy it!

  16. ancientgardener 08/01/2013

    I am 85 and have had to eliminate a lot of my daylilies, but still have a few and as I dead-head them each day their beauty brings me so much pleasure. Looking at the gorgeous blooms you have created brought me infinite pleasure also. I expect you let Mother Nature do most of your dead-heading. 30,000 would be a bit daunting. I love the one your son created - it looks like a huge, lovely African violet.

  17. lilyfan 08/01/2013

    You all have so rewarded me with your wonderful affirming comments! Thank you so much! The gardening community is wonderful ..I have heard that gardeners live longer and I believe it! Especially with all the encouragement we get from one another! Thanks you again!

  18. prettyold_lady 08/12/2013

    Hey Nancy -- You know how your beauties make me cry every time you arrange a basket of them. Well, the pictures do the same thing! Bless you!

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