By Anne Hart Preus
BC Staff Writer
“We never dreamed our work would amount to this,” said Frankie and John Oswalt as they sat looking out over a sea of lilies in their back yard.
All colors and sizes of daylilies swayed in the gentle summer breeze as the Oswalts told how they started growing their prized flowers five and a half years ago.
The Oswalts moved back to Cleveland after a few years in Starkville and brought with them lilies that had belonged to Frankie’s mother. “Those flowers are 60-years-old,” she said.
“We love lilies. There is just something about them. We started out with 20 dollars’ worth of lilies and within two years we had around 40 lilies,” said John.
“We just kept buying more and they kept multiplying. We looked at all the daylily farms and the ones in Florida have the best.
“This is really John’s hobby,” said Frankie, “but we both love doing this.”
The Oswalts are retired from an eight to five job and have transitioned into a full time job planting, cultivating, and selling daylilies.
They work from daylight to dark with their flowers, but the hard work does not seem to bother them. The work pays off in a scenic oasis.
“We have a lot of customers who come and sit under the shade trees in our backyard and enjoy the flowers,” said John. “It is not just the ladies who come. We have quite a few male customers. We don’t care if people want to just come and enjoy the beauty. We welcome lookers as well as those who want to buy. We enjoy sharing this scenery with others.”
According to Frankie, the lilies start blooming in mid-May and continue to mid- August. “The hybrids re-bloom,” she said.
Some of the blooms were 8.5 inches wide. “Those are some of the most expensive,” said John. “They cost a lot, but we sell them for $30 — the hybrids. We sell the regular ones for $8 a clump or $10 in a pot. If we dig them up, they suffer a little shock and might not bloom for a year. Those in the pot will bloom right away.”
Frankie advised people who are interested in lilies to plant them in a low bed because they need a lot of water.
The Oswalts formed Delta Daylilies because so many people were interested in their lilies.
“We go to the Farmer’s Market in Cleveland and have a lot of success there,” said John.
“We had a customer from as far away as Virginia,” said Frankie. “Somehow people are finding out what we have here.”
“Every morning we get our coffee and come out into the yard to see what is new,” said John. “This is worth getting up for each day.”
Some of their prized lilies have names like Bullfrog Kisses, Shamrock Spring, Charmed Life, Ronald Regan, Hot Gossip and Duke Ellington.
“We will keep expanding as long as we are able and we invite people to just come and enjoy the beauty, sit under the shade trees and visit. For us, this is a dream come true,” said John.