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The Daylily Lady

By Lacy Hilliard
Freelance Writer, Photographer

Because Johnson County is rooted in agriculture, it harbors an impressive variety of greenhouses and home-based agricultural pursuits. While many of the impressive gardens that adorn Johnson County’s vast landscape have something special to offer in the way of color, variety and beauty; not many can boast that each day they grace their garden, the colors and content are entirely different than they were the day before. This is one of the many reasons Nancy Tyner decided to create her daylily farm.
When Nancy and her husband, Lacy, decided to retire on a 56-acre tract of land off McEwen Road in Mountain City, Nancy saw a blank canvas just begging for an idea. Creativity comes naturally to Nancy. In the past she has taught crafting classes about everything from watercolor painting to doll making. She has also always been an avid gardener. In 1997, Nancy was browsing the daylily selection at a greenhouse when the idea struck. She went home and immediately asked her husband if he would be willing to help her create her own daylily farm, to which her husband responded, “What’s a daylily farm?” As she filled him in on the details, he grew a bit skeptical and thought it might be difficult to turn a profit with such an endeavor, but he agreed to lend a hand just the same. Much to his surprise, his wife made $200 on her very first day of business. In an effort to chide her husband a bit, she laid out the profits on her kitchen table. When Lacy Tyner came home to find the table covered with bills, suddenly the words “daylily farm” became forever etched into his vocabulary.
If you gaze upon the thousands of different varieties of daylilies Nancy’s farm showcases today, you might find it difficult to imagine that she began her pursuit with just 12 plants. Daylilies are a perennial, so from the original 12, Nancy worked to increase her crop until she felt confident she had enough varieties to open her business. Daylilies may be one of the most diverse ornamental plants in existence. The colors can vary greatly showcasing everything from pale pinks, vibrant yellows and elegant creams to stunning purples, tropical oranges and deep reds. The shapes can differ greatly too; single, double, spider, multiform, sculpted, star, triangular and trumpet are just a few of the lineations that can be found in the daylily family. Nancy Tyner’s farm offers an astonishing array of colors, patterns, and shapes. She even has her own trademark varieties to offer. If you visit her farm at 2568 McEwen Road, you’ll be amazed by the dramatic splashes of color and form that beckon further exploration.
As you would expect, Nancy Tyner works hard. Though she claims, “When it becomes hard work, I’ll quit,” it’s easy to see that her pursuit requires a great deal of dedication. Nancy says the inspiration to wander around in her garden isn’t hard to come by. She knows that with daylilies, if you go just one day without taking a peek, you might miss a glorious bloom –never to be seen again. The hours of operation at Nancy Tyner’s farm are from daylight to dusk and she prefers that people call 727-9748 before coming by so she can give you the grand tour, and as if the vast array of daylilies weren’t enough, she also has an impressive variety of irises to offer. Nancy will proudly lead you through acres of perfect petals and answer any questions you might have about particular varieties or planting tips and tricks.
To read the entire story, please pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.