Stop and Smell the North Carolina Daylilies
Carnival in Mexico. Potion for Passion. Egyptian Queen. Never Been Kissed. No, these aren’t the names of fancy cocktails. They are the whimsical names of daylily varieties grown on farms across North Carolina.
Davis Boxwood & Daylily Garden
Rebecca and Clinton Davis of Lowgap have been professional gardeners since the 1980s, having raised boxwoods before delving into daylilies.
“I wanted to raise a plant more colorful than just green,” Rebecca says. “In 2001, we took a vacation near Cherokee and saw a place called The Lily Patch. They would dig up daylilies and bag them for you to take home. We had never seen such a great variety. I bought $110 worth of daylilies that day and came home and planted them.”
Their business bloomed from that day forward. Today, they grow more than 800 daylily varieties. Their gardens are open year round, and visitors are welcome anytime, though they don’t dig up any daylilies on Sundays.
“We offer cool drinks for people and welcome them to come look around even if they don’t buy a thing,” Rebecca says. “We’ve made so many friends in the daylily business.”
One of their most popular varieties is the All American Chief, a bright red bloom with a vibrant yellow center.
“I get asked a lot what my favorite variety is,” Rebecca says, laughing. “I say, ‘Do you want my top 50, 20 or 10?’ I love the color of the Alabama Jubilee, a florescent red-orange that stands up to our hot summers. I also like Born to Run, a newer variety that’s red with a large gold ruffled edge. And Carnival in Mexico is an award-winning variety hybridized in 2000 by Iron Gate Gardens in Kings Mountain.”
The Davises note that daylilies love mulch and fertilizer, and they don’t take a lot of work.
“The best part is when people come to us and say, ‘I’ve got to have that daylily.’ They’re so happy when they’re able to take it home,” says Rebecca, who ships flowers all over the U.S.
Trying new things keeps the garden exciting, too. Rebecca started growing Japanese Irises a few years ago, and in 2016, she plans to grow Carnivorous Pitcher Plants.
“They are fascinating because bugs are attracted to their nectar, then the plant traps the bug and eats it. The bug nourishes them,” she says. “They’re very unusual looking. They look like stained glass when the sun comes through. I’m excited to see how they turn out.”
Bear W Daylily Farm
Kim and Mickey Webb of Morganton started Bear W Daylily Farm almost by accident in 1999.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m., June 16, 2018
Food, prizes, daylily sales, and the Good Ol Boys Bluegrass Band. Free to the public.
“Mickey’s great aunt Pauline had given us some daylilies, and we put them out but didn’t pay a lot of attention to them,” Kim recalls.
Just when the couple was about to get rid of them, Kim’s aunt and uncle in Green Mountain sent them some more.
“My aunt and uncle had their own daylily farm, and they encouraged us to start selling them,” Kim says. “I got laid off that year, so we started our daylily business that summer. That was 17 years ago.”
Today, the Webb’s grow more than 1,300 varieties of daylilies on their property, which is dotted with bear décor, garden gnomes and handmade benches. In 2005, Bear W Daylily Farm was named an official display garden by the American Hemerocallis Society, a designation that brings flower fans from near and far. The farm, which ships its daylilies all over the country, welcomed more than 1,200 visitors in 2014.
“We get to meet some really good people. We find out about each other’s backgrounds and enjoy good fellowship,” Kim says. “We also really enjoy being outside – most of the time.”
Bear W Daylily Farm is open on select days from the end of May through mid-July. Every June, they host a free Daylily Festival with live bluegrass music, hot dogs, barbecue and drawings for prizes.
The 2018 festival is on June 16 from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m.
“Growing daylilies brings our family together,” Mickey says. “Our two sons come back to help us with our festival, and our church family helps too. Even the young ones get into it, asking questions and pulling weeds.”
If You Go...
Bear W Daylily Farm
4560 Silver Creek Church R.
Morganton, NC 28655
Davis Boxwood & Daylily Nursery
136 Sunset Ridge Trail
Lowgap, NC 27024
– Jessica Mozo