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Sharing the wealth

Posted on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 1:33 pm

It doesn’t happen every year but when Bill Kirby realized he had around 800 mature daylilies in the patch he cultivates in Heathsville, it was time for a daylily sale to benefit St. Stephens Episcopal Church’s outreach programs. The sale on Saturday in Heathsville was a roaring success.

“We sold 500 clumps,” Kirby said. “We made about $2000.”

Kirby has been cultivating daylilies for about 25 years and makes hybrid by taking the pollen from one plant and putting it with another. The seeds produced grow into hybrids.

“A lot are muddy,” Kirby noted, “but occasionally one stands out.” The hybrids may appear as “spiders” or “eyes” or any of an array of different configurations. Starting from the common orange “ditch lilies” there are now about 60,000 named varieties recognized by the American Homerocallis Society, Kirby observed.

Saturday’s sale was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. but people began arriving at 8:30, Ellen Kirby said. By 10 a.m. the plants had been pretty well picked over. “They may have come early to avoid the heat,” she said.

Kirby said it takes about three years to grow a daylily from seed to mature plant. He grows his on a piece of ground behind the public library that Howard Straughan leased to the church for 99 years before his death. The property now belongs to the library.

Hard work yields many rewards for the community.