Elise introduced me to Milkcan Corner Farm owner Lisha Kimball who helped us pick out a late blooming, creamy peach colored plant which Lisha dug up on the spot and loaded on her tractor and delivered it to our car. For the ten years it took the plant to get from seed to the beauty we purchased, Lisha sold it for the trifling sum of $10—a dollar a year. What a bargain!
I was intrigued by the farm, and Lisha told me how it all came too be. In 1963, Lisha and her husband Dan moved from Connecticut to the countryside in Webster, New Hampshire. Dan bought her a horse which she loved to ride and would often stop to talk with the neighbors she met and learned the oral history of the area. They were ‘old timers’ and called her “The City Girl.” She learned that back in the 30s, a large platform sat on Mutton Road where the local dairy farmers placed cans full of fresh milk every day. Later a truck would stop by and pick them up and deliver them to Concord where it was pasteurized, bottled, and distributed. She and Dan decided that the Milkcan Corner Farm was the perfect name for their farm located near the very spot where all the milk was once collected.
For years, they grew blueberries, raspberries, and currants. It wasn’t until 2005 that the day lily gardens began. That year, Lisha was diagnosed with Amyloidosis and told she had two years to live. After much research and DNA testing, she learned that when her grandfather was gassed in World War I, it affected his genes and he passed on this rare disorder to some of his descendents. Facing this grim diagnosis, Dan wanted desperately to help his wife and soul mate. He knew Lisha loved flowers and told her “Be happy. Buy flowers.” So she did.
After two years of dialysis and many trips to the hospital in Boston, Lisha received a life saving kidney and liver transplant. She began her daylily gardens before the transplant and continued to grow the farm with the help of her husband, children, and grandchildren.
She buys her cultivars (registered cultivated day lily varieties) from growers who raise them from seeds with the cultivars growing for years, first in green houses and then in fields before they are sold. Lisha plants them in her garden and raises them for another seven years before she splits them and offers them for sale. Lisha purchases about ten new cultivars every year at a cost of $40 each to add to her gardens.
She currently has 400 different cultivars in every color imaginable. She put signs in front of each plant with its registered name and characteristics. My favorite is “Naughty Ballerina” There are 80,000 cultivars registered by the American Hemerocalllis Society so Lisha will always have plenty to choose from.
Here's the link to Lisha's facebook page so that you too can become her friend.