Tribute to Past Hybridizers
A retrospective to familiarize ourselves with past AHS members responsible for many of the daylilies growing in our gardens
Submissions by AHS members and friends
Remembering hybridizers who have made significant contributions to the world of daylilies
If you would like to participate, please e-mail for details
|Viola Parker||Clyde Davidson||Steve Moldovan||Oscie B. Whatley, Jr.||Brother Charles Reckamp||Pauline Henry|
Photo, newspaper clipping & data, are courtesy of granddaughter, Libby Beecher, Arkansas
Viola Parker was an Arkansas hybridizer in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, once served on the AHS Board of Directors for Region 13, and won several Honorable Mention awards plus two Awards of Merit for her introductions. Also, I'm proud to state, she was my grandmother.
I remember her yard being like something out of Southern Living, with all sorts of flowers, shrubs and trees. My dad stated that at one time Viola estimated she had over 1500 daylilies. I always loved to go to her house and play in her gardens. She used to get up at 4:30AM during the summer so she could watch her lilies awaken and make her crosses as soon as the flowers began to open. She kept journals on her flowers that told whether the blooms opened early, stayed open late, and whether or not they stood up to heat, sun and rain. Included in these journals were details about the plants themselves: dormant, semi-evergreen, evergreen, stalk height and strength, early, mid-season or late bloomers. She had a passion for green throats, the illusive white, and also loved the whimsical shapes of unusual forms. Her two Awards of Merit were won for H.'Arkansas Post' and H.'My Son Bob'.
I always enjoyed "helping" when she held her annual Open House at Hope and Happiness Gardens. I was probably in the way, but she always found time to make me feel important, even when she was entertaining throngs of people. Having a small yard and garden of my own, I now realize all the work and love she put into her gardening every year.
My biggest regret is that of her 176 registered cultivars, my family only has about 15 varieties left. I do still have most of the ones named for our family members, but so many are probably lost forever. If anyone has Parker cultivars they would be willing to share, please feel free to contact me, Libby Beecher, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data courtesy of Harold McDonell (of H.'Mary's Gold' fame) Fayetteville, Georgia
Photo source: The Greater Atlanta Hemerocallis Society 1986 Convention Handbook
Clyde Davidson was already a fixture in the Greater Atlanta Daylily Society and Region 5 when I first became a member in 1976 and was instrumental in getting me active in daylily societies. My wife and I attended a daylily show in Decatur, Clyde's home-town and a suburb of Atlanta, that year and saw numerous entries with Clyde's name on them. We took down his name and address and visited him the next week. We ended up visiting for almost 3 hours and his enthusiasm for daylilies and daylily people was infectious. We immediately became member of Greater Atlanta, which led to membership in AHS. He also was the person that got me started in hybridizing.
Until moving to a retirement center in the early 90's, Clyde and his wife Frances maintained an extensive commercial garden of almost five acres. Clyde's specialty was hybridizing tets, which he started doing in the late 60's when tets were still rare and mostly unappealing. He maintained contacts with most of the leading tet people of those days and most of his early work was out of the 'Crestwood' series of early tets. He also used Brother Charles Reckamp's daylilies in his program extensively as well as daylilies from Dr. Peck. He did no conversions on his own and relied on others for his early hybridizing material.
Clyde's goals were to create daylilies with excellent garden habits and many blooms. In his time, rebloom was almost unheard of in terms of being a reliable trait so he valued well-branched scapes and high bud count very highly. Most of his creations were dormant, were excellent growers, had clean pretty foliage, and had excellent scapes. Indeed, he valued all of the above over the flower itself. I often saw him leave his very best flowers unselected for introduction because he did not like the other plant habits. Due to a bad early experience, he would not allow any seedling not selected by him to leave his seedling bed and all unselected seedlings were composted through a leaf shredder. He also was not a fan of the very fat form of flowers that became more popular in the 70's and 80's. He preferred full but not fat well-formed flowers that opened early and that opened fully reliably. (Many of the early tets did not open well and often did not start opening until about 9 am.)
Most of Clyde's introductions carried the 'Decatur' prefix in the name. They were more popular with average gardeners than with the connoisseur/collectors of the day. They were most popular in the mid-west where they seemed to perform at their very best. They were also, of course, popular in Georgia.
Clyde was a very interesting and warm person. He was retired from Southern Bell, part of the old AT&T after about 35 years of service. His brother-in-law was president of AT&T at the time of his retirement in the late 60s. His wife was a teacher and ran a pre-school program out of their home for many years. Neither ever met a stranger and loved visitors to their garden. There was a large garden shed that contained an open-air gathering area that seated as many as a dozen people at a time. During bloom time, the seating area as well as the garden would always be full of visitors. It was THE Atlanta place of choice for daylily socializing. However, Clyde always took a break from 12 N to 2 PM for lunch and a nap so you would never see him during that time.
Clyde was also very generous, allowing people to collect pollen from any plant in the garden after he completed his own hybridizing. He gave away as many plants as he sold and he was very generous with donations to Greater Atlanta Hem Society and Region Five auctions. He was very active in both organizations. He possessed extensive knowledge of daylilies and many other plants and always shared that knowledge freely. The 1986 National Convention in Atlanta was dedicated in honor of Clyde and all his contributions to Greater Atlanta and Region Five.
Clyde and Frances decided to give up the garden in the early 90's and move into a retirement center while they were still in good health. However, Clyde could never quite give up daylilies and convinced the managers of the retirement center to allot him some garden space around the center where he continued to grow a few of his favorite daylilies and hybridize on a strictly hobby basis. He lived there until his death a few years ago. He was 95 I think at the time of his death. His wife Frances died just before Christmas a year ago.
Clyde Davidson was a wonderful man who lives on in his daylily creations and in the memories of those like me who were fortunate to know him in life.
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Photo & data courtesy of Dave Mussar
In Memory of Steve Moldovan and his mother Mary. Picture taken in front of the Mission Church in Techny Illinois while visiting Brother Charles Reckamp in the early 1960's.
|Photo & data courtesy of Roy Woodhall|
It was Steve Moldovan's opinion that Bill Munson was the ultimate master of the daylily world. Bill was among the early hybridizers committed to breeding tetraploids, along with his mother Ida. Virginia Peck, James Marsh and Chas Reckamp were also committed to the 44 chromosome daylily (twice that found in diploids). During this period, a young Steve Moldovan, protege of Orville Fay, was a close friend of Bill Munson. Steve travelled almost religiously to Wimberlyway Gardens in Florida to see what Bill had created since his last visit, and Bill also visited Steve's Ohio garden annually. Steve was a young explorer in the field of tets along with his more senior friends. Their passion for daylilies has resulted in an almost total sweep of modern breeding from dips to tets. Bill registered and introduced over 1000 daylilies from 1952. He died in 1999. It was Steve's opinion that many of the greats of today rode on Bill's coat tails. Steve often noted that his breeding program made leaps and bounds thanks to the work of Bill.
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|Photo & data courtesy of Roy Woodhall|
Steve Moldovan in his youth with a couple of the "pioneers of daylilies"
Left: Steve with Orville Fay
Right: Steve with David Hall
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|Photo & data herein courtesy of Michael Bouman|
To read articles by Oscie Whatley and posted on the AHS Website, click here
Oscie B. Whatley, Jr. was a manufacturing engineer whose passion was breeding distinctive ornamental plants. Though his plant interests were wide, he focused his work on contributing new genetic material to the emerging field of tetraploid daylilies. He would judiciously acquire the best of the new diploids (the normal number of chromosomes) and would subject them to a near-fatal chemical treatment that resulted in a doubling of the chromosomes in the very few specimens that survived as fertile plants. He would then breed with a converted plant until he saw results that either proved the merit of the conversion or persuaded him that valuable advances were not to be achieved within his limited garden space. His high standards of overall plant excellence made him a leader in daylily breeding from 1975 until his death in 2005. He emphasized plant vigor, vibrant color for distant viewing, and large floral size. Everyone who knew him experienced the deep well of generosity that he credited to his mother. Every friend felt like Oscie's "best" friend. His name is pronounced like O.C. His grandmother gave the name to his father as a short form of Osceola. She knew people would shorten it, anyway. As a young Texan in pilot training in St. Louis during World War II, he styled himself "O.B. Whatley." When he introduced himself to Dorothy Henderson, the girl he would marry, she said she disliked names that were initials and asked what his "real" name was. She thought he was kidding when she heard him reply, "O.C."
|Photo & data courtesy of Dave Mussar|
Brother Charles passed away in 1996 at 91 years of age. He joined the Society of the Divine Word in Techny, Illinios, with the intention of being an overseas missionary, but as a farm kid he was assigned the job of running the garden to feed the brothers. Mission Gardens eventually became a business selling vegetables and flowering plants. Brother Charles started hybridizing with iris but they bloomed during the busy season so he was encouraged to try daylilies. His first registration was made in 1955 and Roy Klehm still has a few to register and introduce. The Reckamp signature was his beautiful delicate pastel polychrome introductions. Little Rainbow, still a garden favorite is a perfect example with the pink overlay of color on its pale yellow base. Steve Moldovan was the one who originally spotted Little Rainbow as a seedling and brought it to Brother Charles' attention! Registered in 1963 it is still a favorite in many gardens and one of many Reckamp award winning daylilies. After Mission Gardens closed, Chas. Klehm & Son Nursery handled the sales of Reckamp introductions from 1975; hence the Reckamp-Klehm notation on cvs. Brother Charles was one of the premier tet breeders in the U.S. and has left a legacy of over 240 (many sporting the Heavenly prefix) daylilies.
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Photo & data courtesy: Late Bob Clary to Charlotte
In Memory of Pauline Henry of famed Siloam Daylilies. All dressed for Sunday church, Pauline I was told made many of her own clothes, shoes dyed to match. She also had an extensive doll collection and loved sewing as well as gardening in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Her numerous award winning daylilies live on in umpteen of our gardens. Pauline's passing in 2000 (at 92) left behind a legacy of 490 daylilies she created over a span of 37 years. Some of her creations can be seen here: http://www.daylilydiary.com/siloam/henry.htm