Longtime daylily breeder aims to secure legacy by giving it away

Bill Warman said after growing daylilies for the last 30 years, he is ready to move on. His mission now is to donate almost all of his plants to local nonprofits, which can either sell them to raise money for their operations or replant them to beautify municipal landscapes.

All that he requests is that the groups keep track of the number of plants they receive for his income tax purposes and to supply him with their 501(c)(3) nonprofit number. They can just tell him how many they want, and when they want them, period.

Warman, who is 69, said it is not so much a loss of interest, but rather, that he has accomplished what he had set out to do. “I got the breeding ability the way I wanted it, I got the size, the height, and the color the way I wanted it, so I’m done. I wanted to build a mountain,” he said. “I built my mountain, now I go home.”

He is looking forward to a time when he sees his daylilies sprouting up all over the state. For now he is devoting more of his time to peonies because of the genetics, he said. “There’s no way I can deal with the both of them.”

He called his peonies his prized possession, and said he will continue to grow them on his 10-acre Waldo property aptly named The Maine Garden. Warman’s peonies have 15-inch blossoms and, as he puts it, “the absolute scent of a woman. The most beautiful smell that you can find.”

They take longer to grow than daylilies, he said, but he gets more satisfaction out of the large blossoms and super fragrance. “It takes me three years to get the first blossom and another five years to see the plant,” he said. “I normally will have 10 years in a daylily before I decide whether it’s any good, and as much as 20 years in a peony.”

According to Warman, his business was one of only two in the area and he was always busy. Traveling to India and Australia to purchase stone, he said, in 11 years, he was home only half the time.

“I had one of the first daylilies available in Maine,” he said. “I breed specifically for an increase in genes.” The work he has done breeding daylilies is in line with what a geneticist does, but according to Warman, “I don’t have a college degree and don’t need that.”

People have come to his garden and purchased plants from 32 different nations, and almost every single state has recognized Warman's plants. Two 5-foot filing cabinets hold information on over 2,000 cross-breeding plants he has produced and he keeps pictures of his 600 or so registered plants in a three-ring binder that resembles a family photo album.

“I’m only going to be open only as a place to come and get donated plants,” Warman said. “I want the world to know I want to donate.”

Read the complete article at www.waldo.villagesoup.com.

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