(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 14, 2009.)

On March 27, 2009 lilydaydreamer posted the following on a Dave's Garden thread:

"Hello all!

I haven't posted much in the last few months (busy, busy, busy) but I try to keep up with what is going on here since I love it so much!

Many of you have been very generous... with advice, seeds and plants both for myself and the daylily program I started at my school. So I wanted to share the news... the daylily program/unit at my school just won a $10,000 teaching excellence award from a biotechnology company called Amgen!!!! Yes that is ten thousand dollars!!! We plan to use it to create a true outdoor classroom and improve our greenhouse.

Needless to say, I am extremely excited! I have funded much of the project to date from my own pocket and that of my daylily friends so this monetary award is a blessing.

Thanks for letting me share,

DavesGarden image Daylily: Pink w/ stripes DavesGarden image Daylily: Large cream colorDavesGarden image Daylily: cream with dark purple

Lilydaydreamer's story actual begins years earlier, in 2005, when she made a simple order of a couple of daylilies. That simple order became anything but simple. In her own words, "From the moment I saw 'Zagora' and 'Kindly Light' bloom---I was hooked! I now have over 400 named cultivars I grow in my little city lot. I found Dave's Garden and joined in 2006."

DavesGarden image Daylily: Yellow & Red/Purple DavesGarden image Daylily: Double with Pink PetalsDavesGarden image Daylily: Light Orange with purple center

She also teaches science in a small high school where about 500 children between grades 7 and 12 attend. The city is small and considered low-income and "at risk." But this teacher had big dreams. She believes in the "showing" not "telling" method of teaching and always looks for creative ways to teach the manditory subjects. Lilydaydreamer states; "Please do not get me wrong..I still teach basic core content: Newton's three laws, the periodic table, cell structure, geologic time scale, etc... i just try to connect it to something I enjoy and hope my enthusiasm spills over to them."

So in 2006, the teacher, wildly enthusiastic about daylilies and believing in hands-on education, decided to bring the daylilies to her 7th grade students. She started a little unit called "Growing up in Day-lily-ton, Kentucky".

DavesGarden image Daylily: Purple with light greenDavesGarden image Daylily: Yellow with orange stripes DavesGarden image Daylily: Almost white and dark purple accents

Lilydaydreamer gives students a list of available daylily seeds and the learning fun began. Students then

  • decide which seeds they want,
  • research the traits of the parent daylilies for the chosen seeds,
  • predict the resulting offspring's traits,
  • care for the seeds and the baby daylilies,
  • gather data on their seedlings, and
  • care for the garden beds

DavesGarden image Daylily: Almost white with light yellow throatDavesGarden image Daylily: Pink with bright yellow DavesGarden image Daylily: Reddish purple

Not only do students take ownership and pride in the school gardens, according to lilydaydreamer, they also learn:

  • plant structure/function through the study of daylilies' modified stems
  • differences between moncot and dicot
  • genetics
  • sexual/asexual reproduction through hybridizing and fan divisions
  • biotic and abiotic factors
  • soil (including rock cycle through study of the fertile soils of the area)
  • worms
  • composting
  • invasive species (like ditch lilies)
  • interdependance of species, including the food chain
  • gardening practices
  • market supply/demand
  • independent thinking
  • creativity
  • registration of plants

Lilydaydreamer wanted her enthusiasm to spill over on the kids? Ha! It is not just spilling but pouring over onto the world! This teacher has so dramatically changed the lives of her students and her city that they are looking into a "long term plan of registering Dayton, Kentucky as a daylily city with the American Hemerocallis Society (AHS)"! Not only does each student get to keep their daylily creations, it is possible that someday you might be purchasing a beautiful plant registered by one of lilydaydreamer's students. Your garden might be changed by a student inspired by Lilydaydreamer.

DavesGarden image Daylily: Cream with purple DavesGarden image Daylily: Very light pink DavesGarden image Daylily: Yellow with light white stripes

Lilydaydreamer is quick to say she did not accomplish all this by herself. She credits some of the wonderful people on Dave's Garden.

I'll let her tell you in her own words; "It was through Dave's Garden and the daylily fourm that I learned most of what I know about daylilies. Badseed told me about a local club and I joined the Greater Cincinnati Daylily and Hosta Society. Then the AHS. DG is also how I learned about the Lily Auction.

As the idea of using the daylilies in my classroom started to come together, DG members were generous. I purchased some plants from Rinkland Daylilies and when I told her about the program and that many that I was buying were going to school, the two fans of many cultivars arrived as six to eight fans! Plenty to plant at school and let students helping take some home too! Several members sent seeds. I got advice for growing seeds in the classroom from MitchF who is also a teacher. This generousity is what makes DG such a great place!

DavesGarden image Daylily: Bright yellow DavesGarden image Daylily: 2 with dark purple throats DavesGarden image Daylily: Orange with rust throat

Side note from me, the author: Mitch F. just happens to be my terrific nephew. Nope, I'm not prejuidiced...its just the truth. He has turned out to be a wonderful man.

DavesGarden image Daylily: soft orange DavesGarden image Daylily: Purple, green and white DavesGarden image Daylily: Pale yellow with white stripe

When the daylily seeds grew up and began blooming this year, lilydaydreamer began posting pictures for all of us to enjoy. This is one of the first blooming posts: "Wanted to share! We had our first outside from seed bloom at the school garden today. It is Exotic Candy X unk. Scape is about 28" flower 5"...just excited to finally have seedlings scaping/blooming. There are about 20 seedlings that already show scapes in the seedlings started by my 2007 class. Now begins all the data collection - the kids are anxious to see their babies bloom."

All of the pictures in this article belong to lilydaydreamer. Some of the flowers in the pictures belong to other people, some are in lilydaydreamer's garden and some are from the flowers that her students hybridized. Regardless, they are beautiful. And lilydaydreamer's teacher's heart is just as beautiful. These young people are double blessed to have a teacher like Lisa. I hope some of the students name their creations after her. Who knows? Perhaps the next big name in the daylily industry in being trained in lilydaydreamer's class. Below is a picture of her classroom, a picture of the greenhouse built by another teacher and two pictures of the student's gardens.

The classroom Greenhouse from a previous teacher One of the gardens

Seeds growing into babies in the dirt

More quotes from Lisa lilydaydreamer:

"When we got the news, (of the $10,000 grant) my students went crazy screaming and jumping around."

I bought two daylilies this year (not here yet) that will get planted together at our elementary school. One is named 'Angel of Peace' and the other is named 'Angel Kim' each for a teacher who passed away this year from cancer.

Have you ever planted daylilies together just for their names? I know many have done the "theme beds" and I am not really talking about that. I mean just planting 2 or 3 daylilies together because their names could lead to a good conversation. I think I just did that. I already had 'Go For Baroque' and I just planted 'Monet' by it. Not because they are both names of artists but because of a shirt I once saw that said: Baroque - what you are when you are out of Monet. Lisa (who is Baroque because she spent all her Monet on daylilies!)

We do plan to have a summer fundraiser (maybe by next year) where we do sell inexpensive older cultivars to the general public to promote daylilies. We want to make it like a little festival with information booths set up by students (how to plant, how to hybridize, plant structure/function, pictures of seedlings if not in bloom, results of scienctific investigations on abiotic factors, name a daylily contest, raffle for a more expensive cultivar, edible dayliliies/recipes, etc...) We plan on calling it Dayton Daylily Daze.

Light pinkish cream color Bright yellow Dark reddish

What a teacher, what a garden! What a Garden is Dave's Garden!

Orange with rust color Dark reddish Purple orange with purple throat