Decades of Daylilies

Celebrated garden sale supports child welfare

Cheryl Alderman definitely knows her daylilies. What started as a ditch-digging expedition for a few blooms on the side of the road has grown into a full-blown passion. Pieces of her prized collection are up for grabs at her annual daylily sale, which benefits Child Abuse Prevention Services. Over the past 20 years, the sale has generated nearly $32,000 in donations for the local nonprofit.

Carolina Home + Garden: How did you get started gardening?
Cheryl Alderman: My mother had a flower garden when I was growing up, so it was part of my background. When I got a home of my own, I slowly developed into a gardener. As my mother was leaving her home in Connecticut, she would send me plants that belonged to my grandmother.

Do you remember any of the first daylilies in your collection?
I got a collection of daylilies in the mail through a mail-order house and they did very well. My husband [Doug Alderman] liked them and encouraged me to get another one. I joined the Western North Carolina Daylily Club and was exposed to how many different types of daylilies there are. That really cultivated my interest.

Why did you decide to host your own daylily sale?
Daylilies do so well and they multiply so naturally that I got to a point where what starts as a single plant becomes a clump and then they’re kind of crowded. I used to give them away to people and spread them around, but I was getting kind of overwhelmed with what I had. So we decided to do a sale. We did it again and again and it just kept growing.

You’re a bit famous in the daylily world. Throw modesty to the wind and tell us why.
There’s a daylily named after me! There’s also one named after my mother. Both are from local hybridizers that knew us and asked if they could name the flowers for us. Of course you say yes.

What does your namesake daylily look like?
It’s kind of an orange-red. It’s a really vibrant color. A friend described it as a knock-out in the garden.

Do you ever hear back from people who have bought your daylilies and now have them in their garden?
Oh, yes. I have a lot of repeat customers. I often meet people who have already been to my house for the sale. I hear from people who just tell me how wonderful they’re doing. That happens all the time.

The sale benefits Child Abuse Prevention Services, a local nonprofit organization. Why is this cause important to you?
My children are grown now, but when I started this, my children were small. I feel that children depend on their parents to protect them. When children are in a situation when their parents aren’t protecting them or where their parents can’t protect them, it’s up to the child to be educated enough to protect themselves. I knew about this organization and that they needed funds. I had an overabundance of daylilies and knew I could turn a very positive thing in my life into a positive thing for them.

You’ve been hosting the daylily sale at your home for 20 years. How do you prepare?
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into the sale over the course of the year. The days of the sale are very busy and my family has always contributed their time and energy to it. Even though it’s a lot of work and it’s exhausting at times, everybody’s very happy and pleasant. Even though you’re tired at the end of it, you feel good for having done it.

If you could grow any kind of daylily, regardless of climate or space, what would be your dream daylily?

I’d probably pick a spider daylily. I really enjoy the uniqueness of their look. I also have lots of ditch lilies, the ones you see growing along the side of the road. In fact, those were the very first ones I got and I did dig them out of a ditch. I’ve had as many as 600 different kinds in my garden and I’m at about 150 right now. My goal is to get it down to a favorite 50, and that’s hard!

Cheryl and Doug Alderman’s daylily farm is on Sharon Road, off Upper Brush Creek Road, Fairview. July 3, 9am-8pm and July 4, 9am-3pm. Find more information on Facebook: Caps WNC.

Carolina Home + Garden  Summer 2015

Photo by Matt Rose