Farewell to the Lilies of the Field

Last week I visited two of my favorite places to buy plants for my garden and bade goodbye to them. By the end of this month, they will both be gone.

Seawright Gardens

Bob Seawright’s day lily farm in Carlisle has been a pilgrimage I’ve undertaken nearly every year since someone first recommended it to me. Unlike a typical garden center with potted plants lined up in neat rows on tables, Seawright Gardens was simply a large field chock full of hybrid daylilies, beautiful blooms all. You picked up a list of what was being sold that year and wandered through row upon row of tall ones and short ones, big flowers and small flowers, straight edges and ruffled edges, plain and two-toned flowers in seemingly every color and shade imaginable.

Seawright, day lilies,

Lilies of the Field

You checked off the ones you wanted—and could afford—and then returned to the little shed to place your order. A worker then went out and dug up the lilies, trimmed them, put them in a bag and brought them back to you. Easy peasy.

After a while Bob added hostas in a beautiful shady corner by the brook. For a hosta-lover like me, this was heaven. But this year when I made my pilgrimage, the rules had changed. The hosta garden was closed and customers had to buy lilies in groups of three—but at 50% off. When I asked the reason I learned that the Seawrights were retiring and had sold the land to an organic farm. I promptly ordered more lilies than I really have room for just because I couldn’t bear to leave those gorgeous colors behind.

Blanchette Gardens

Then I went to Blanchette Gardens nearby to look at their extensive stock of sun and shade perennials. There, also, I was met by a sign saying that they were retiring and all stock was half price. I bought a few things that day but later decided to add some sedum spectabile to my garden for fall color. So back I went in the pouring rain. This time everything was $3 a pot because they are closing for good next Sunday.

Blanchette Garden

Shade Netting in the Rain

Mr. Blanchette explained how grueling this business is. They work every day from March through September—and for long hours. There are no breaks and no summer vacations. It’s hard physical work and the weather can destroy your plants or drive customers–and profits–away. I can only imagine.

I wish both the Seawright and the Blanchette families well and hope they have as happy a retirement as I am enjoying. And I’m glad I have only a small garden in behind our condo instead of the acre of land I used to have. It forces me to be more careful about how and what I plant. There just isn’t enough room for more.

But I will miss my yearly trips and all the beautiful flowers.

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