Olallie Daylily Gardens
A dazzling floral palette
The earth laughs in flowers. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Daylilies are special to me. Since I do not have a green thumb and essentially kill most everything I plant, I was at loss for ideas, especially planting flowers. I really love flowers. I studied Ikebana and take great pleasure arranging them, so why didn't they love me back and just ...grow? I stayed with easy green plant selections until my Williamsville neighbor suggested I try planting daylillies. "You can't kill them", she assured me. So several years ago I tested my luck and bought two clumps at Olallie Daylily Farm in nearby South Newfane. Of interest, Olallie is a west coast native American name which translates loosely to "Place Where Berries Are Found". I stuck the plants in the front of my yard where they would get the most sun and forgot about them. The following year I was surprised to find 2 new colored flowers . They seemed to pop up overnight and stayed on for weeks, one bloom at a time (hence the name daylily). The following year I bought another plant, and, feeling like a kid with a Kinder Surprise, added my selection near the others. The following year I had an entire section of them! My daylily success keeps me motivated to discover and learn more about those magical flowers. It was time for a visit to the Daylily farm...
History of the Darrow Family and the Farm
Dr. George Darrow was a plant geneticist for the United States Department of Agriculture. At his retirement in 1957, he hybridized daylilies with a selective breeding program, resulting in a unique collection of daylilies with many highly desirable characteristics. For many years daylilies were his passion.
Move to Vermont
In 1979, Dr. Darrow invited his son Dan, Dan's wife, Ellen, and their son, Christopher, to come to Olallie Farm in Maryland and dig up a piece of all of his dayliles. Dan and Ellen's farm in Vermont would be the perfect site to continue the Darrow daylily work. Thus, in 1980, Olallie North was born. In 1993, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) inducted Dr. Darrow into the ASHS Hall of Fame, becoming its 8th member. He joined the ranks of Gregor Mendel, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Luther Burbank, and other distinguished plant scientists. His grandson, Christopher Darrow (Chris, as he prefers), inherited hundreds of varieties from him and has been breeding them himself for over 20 years. Chris studied at The University of Vermont, where he majored in Biology and graduated with a degree in animal science. He shares his grandfather's passion and with the help of his mother, Ellen, helped the business thrive.
Olallie Daylily Farm has grown, and now sells more than 2,500 daylily cultivars, including those that Darrow has hybridized, like the citrine hybrids that are 6 feet tall or more. The view of the property is remarkable, with masses of daylilies in all colors. When you visit the farm to choose your own from the field, you can also pick your own blueberries before you leave. The extensive daylily catalogue is available to browse on their website: https://www.daylilygarden.com/garden-plants/daylilies.htmll
They also ship anywhere as they grow in most any zone. And daylilies are wonderful. All beginning gardeners (like me) should have several clumps. Like many plants, they prefer good rich soil and full sun, but some varieties will survive and thrive most anywhere. They come in a wide range of colors and are not affected by insects. For the adventurous culinary enthusiasts, you will be happy to know that daylilies are also comestible. They have been bred and grown for centuries and by now there are tens of thousands of named varieties. Daylilies are also easy to breed. Each flower is open for just one day and most are never pollinated. The female part, the pistil, stands up above the male anthers (of which there are usually six), and bees and other insects can visit them and harvest pollen without ever pollinating them.
Chris's goals are to further develop his website and continue to grow the widest varieties of daylilies to create unique daylily species. His gorgeous 5 acre stretch of flowers is open to visitors all through late spring till the fall. If you are lucky enough to see Chris planting or digging around the property, followed by his two adorable Border Collies, Grom and Jack, do say hello. He is the most personable and cheerful plant expert I ever met!
Click on the tab below to see the beautiful flowers at Ollalie Daylily farm.