Peggy Lewis, Queen of Day Lilies


This week most of the 1000s of Day Lilies in our yard are in full splendor.  These fabulous blooms surround us, thanks to John’s mother, Peggy Lewis.  She was their Queen.  She Loved Day Lilies.  She knew each by name.  She hovered over them, recorded their histories (who’s yard their starts came from) and chronicled their growth and progress year to year.  We have Day Lilies from all over the place in our yard.  Very few were actually purchased from the showy catalogs Peggy would pour over.  Most are from the lovely gardens of family and friends.

Day Lily season is one of my favorite times of the year.  It feels like fireworks are exploding in our yard and every day it’s a new show!  Day Lilies are true to their name.  Each bloom lasts only a single day.  Like a Queen for the Day.  Then, during the night,  their petals fold in on themselves, shrivel and begin to dry up.  If you don’t pluck the spent blooms, they sometimes interfere with the new ones getting ready to open.  For those up-comers, dead-heading is a kindness.  So we do it.  It takes me at least an hour to work my way around our gardens dead-heading the spent blooms.  It’s not really a chore.  It feels more like a labor of love, a time to acknowledge each effort to beautify our world.  I can’t bear the thought of such exquisite effort going unnoticed.  I think Peggy was the same, and more.


Every morning, Peggy would take one of her many worn spiral notebooks and begin her work.  She had sketches of each garden area around our property.  She noted the name and location of each plant.   Some of her favorites were Butterfly Kisses, Ruffian, Gentle Blessing, Heather Down, Tropic Tang,  Magic Sails, Winning Ways, See Here, Archangel, Butterworth and Gardner’s Joy.

The tall stocks of blooms are called “scapes.”  There are multiple blooms on each scape Peggy noted the day of the first bloom and then kept track of how many scapes on each plant, and how many blooms on each scape.  When the glory days for each plant ended, she noted the day of the last bloom.  I’d often watch her from my windows as she’d bend over each plant, counting, and making tally marks in her notebooks.  I was too busy with young kids to do more than smile.  But I did not fail to notice and feel the love she had for these beautiful creations.

Day Lily Notebook 7

I think of her every time I make the rounds now, as she did.  I cringe when I snap off a new bud by mistake because I know she would do the same.  I look into the face of each flower and wonder at it’s unique beauty.  Day Lilies are kind of like people.  Here on this earth for just a bit of time, then we make room for others by moving on.  It’s nice to be noticed while we are here.  It’s the least we can do.

Here is a photo of Grandma Peggy teaching a Day Lily class at our Lewis Family Reunion in 2000.

2000, Family Reunion (15)

Here are some photos of the Day Lilies in our yard right now:

July 2007 534 IMG_4774 IMG_4767 IMG_4729 IMG_4779 IMG_4734 IMG_4766 IMG_4771 IMG_4733 IMG_4732 IMG_4731 IMG_4730 IMG_4727 IMG_4723 IMG_4718 IMG_4717

And here is Peggy’s headstone, complete with Day Lilies!

Peggy Lewis Headstone

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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2 Responses to Peggy Lewis, Queen of Day Lilies

  1. chmjr2 says:

    What a nice tribute to your grandmother. The pictures were beautiful.

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