The hybridizer we are spotlighting this week is Dorothy Warrell, of Granville OH.
I know this hybridizer well, and am honored to have her as a personal friend, so pardon me if this write up is a bit longer than normal. I could probably show you a hundred photos taken at her garden, or in my own, as I am sure I have taken thousands of images of her things through the years. Sometimes it is not easy finding the information to do the hybridizer write ups, but other times, like this one, when we actually know the people and can ask them questions, interview them, then we can do a longer, more rounded write up.
Granville is a beautiful little town, which looks like it was picked up out of New England and dropped into central Ohio. It is in the very heart of Ohio, in an area where the flats of western Ohio abruptly meet the big hills of eastern Ohio. We have clay soil, with cold winters that often have little snow cover and hot, humid, summers that to often have little rainfall. It is not the easiest area to garden in.
Some time in the mid 1980's when I bought the land I now live on, I started growing starts of various perennials that came from my mother's family. Mom had been moving these plants with her where ever she lived, and naturally, she wanted to pass some on to me. One of those was a yellow daylily. It thrived on neglect, surviving here with little care. Once the house was built, I started to take more notice of which plants were doing better than others. The peony and the daylily were clear standouts. About that time, I noticed some signs around the town I lived near "Daylilies for Sale" with an arrow showing where to go. One day I followed that sign - which led me to Dottie Warrell's garden - and ultimately to every garden I have visited to see daylilies in all those years. It was Dottie and her seedlings that really got me interested in gardening.
Dottie's mother gave her some leftover seeds when she was a child for her own little flower garden, on their farm in Minnesota. This was the beginning of her life-long love of plants. The neighbors tested iris in the 1940's for Cooley's of Oregon and Dottie was allowed to purchase 12 tall bearded iris for $5. They grew and increased and she sold the increase so she could buy more.
Dottie met "Boots" Warrell, when he came to her home town to play baseball in 1954. They married, and after a brief time living in Pennsylvania, settled in Ohio in 1958. The iris moved with her, and she continued to sell the increase, and in 1963, "Dottie's Iris Garden" opened.
In the early 1970's, she met Franklin McVickers of Circleville, Ohio. He was the hybridizer of the 1967 AHS Stout Medal winner FULL REWARD. From McVickers, Dottie learned about daylilies, hybridizing - and of another local source, Hatfield Gardens. Dottie purchased quite a few of Child's intros from Hatfield, which she used in her hybridizing.
Franklin advised Dottie to cross like colors, pastels with pastels, golds and melons with reds. Dottie crossed Stoplight (Childs) and Monseigneur Garnet (Saxton) and then crossed the two best seedlings. She entered one of the seedlings from this cross in the Ohio Daylily Show in 1988, and won best seedling with it. She later named it 'Holly Dancer.' Here is a photo of a clump of it that I used to grow under the edge of my crabapple tree in front of my house. Poor thing didn't get much light, but it still bloomed and bloomed. Holly Dancer has thrived every place I have planted it through the years. If I ever get to the point of only growing 5 daylilies - I am sure Holly Dancer will be one of them.
Dottie's goals were to create plants with distinction, but always with clear colors, and good plant habits. By 1973, she was selling daylily seedlings along with the iris, and the garden name was changed to Twin Beech Gardens, after two big old beech trees growing in the yard.
She was very involved with the Ohio Hemerocallis Society, which would become the Ohio Daylily Society, for many years. She was an Exhibition Judge too, but eventually, the garden grew to the point where it kept her home during bloom season.
Dottie has won multiple AHS awards.
Honorable Mention: 2004 Holly Dancer, 2005 Rings And Things, 2005 Starsearch, 2006 Chief Black Hand, 2006 Divine Design, 2007 Frozen Mert, 2007 Joseph's Coat
In 2012 Little Boy Bob won the Florida Sunshine Cup.
Holly Dancer won the Harris Olson Spider Award in 2006, and an Award of Merit in 2007.
In 2005, Region 2 awarded Dottie with the Howard Hite Award, meant to honor years of effort on the part of a hybridizer to improve daylily cultivars.
Frozen Mert is one of Dottie Warrell's introductions. Several people I know locally grew it as a seedling, before she introduced it. I found it to be a good plant for clarifying color, and adding bud count and branching to what ever I crossed it with. Jamie Gossard's 2013 Stout Medal winner, Heavenly Angel Ice, is from a cross of Frozen Mert x Heavenly Curls. (Heavenly Curls is from a cross of Mormon Spider x Frozen Mert.) Here is a photo of Frozen Mert growing beside Primal Scream, in my garden, back in 2006.
When I pressed Dottie to list some of her favorites among her introductions, she said that to her, these plants all had "a certain something…" Holly Dancer, Divine Design, Jupiter Lighthouse, Coral Rhapsody, Sir Elton, Paperweight, Wee Sue, St. Elmo's Fire, Cellophane and Hold Your Fire. I am familiar with all of them but the last two, and have grown several of them.
Jupiter Lighthouse is one of those dark flowers with a throat like a glowing ember.
Divine Design in my garden.
Sir Elton is a distinctive bloom, it is no wonder it is one of Dottie's favorites. I took this shot of a poly bloom on it in Dottie's garden a few years back.
I also grew Wee Sue for many years. Super plant habit, clear color.
Although Dottie works with spiders and unusual forms, she has introduced several doubles, several in the 3" range, eyed daylilies, quilled sepals, watermarks - quite a wide range of colors, sizes and forms.
Another of my favorites,
Cold Cold Heart
This is Hip Boots - named for her husband, Boots. Talk about a plant that makes a stunning clump.
As a breeding plant, I have had a great deal of fun working with Orchid Majesty. I've had some mighty pretty seedlings come out of it, from a wide variety of parents as the other side of the cross. It just seems to "pretty up" what ever I put it with. Years ago, I let someone talk me into selling them my last plant of it - and have been sorry ever since. I seriously need to replace it next year. I really miss growing it.
Another one that I have really enjoyed growing is Little Boy Bob. I have not used it for breeding, but instead I have used it in the perennial border. A 3" flower on 28" scapes, bright orange with red eye, this one really throws out the buds for me. Easy for me to see why this won the Florida Sunshine Cup in 2012!
Besides daylilies, Dottie grows many types of perennials. I always enjoy visiting her garden in spring to see her huge collection of daffodils, then returning again in a few weeks to see the peonies… oh, my the peonies! In summer, the iris, phlox, hosta - there are so many kinds of flowers. She and Boots can no longer take care of all of the beds, and have cut way back in recent years, but she still has quite extensive beds of perennials. When I first started visiting her all those years ago, it seemed they were really out in the country, but now, there are housing developments around them, which has meant the deer have moved into the yard and beds and have become a real nuisance for Dottie and Boots.
Dottie shares something with many of the hybridizers we have written about - she was a teacher. She was a full time elementary school teacher, then a substitute teacher for many years, before retiring. She and her husband, Howard, or "Boots," as we all know him, have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Dottie and Boots enjoy traveling around and looking for paperweights to add to their extensive collection. Dottie also likes to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off competition. Let me tell you, she also makes some wonderful jam and jelly!
One thing that amazes me about Dottie is her crocheting. She makes the most beautiful things!!! She designs afghans and other crocheted items. She has won top awards at State Fairs and competitions. Her designs have been published in top national magazines such as Herrachners, McCall's, Annie's Attic and Crochet Fantasy. She is known for her floral, bird and butterfly designs, although she does all sorts of things. She always has lots of new afghans to show me that she has done. She spends a lot of time figuring out colors, patterns and designs. They are pretty when you see them online, but they are absolutely beautiful in person! Just Google "afghans Dorothy Warrell" and you will be surprised by how many she has done! I think there are at least 40 or 50 that have been published now.
Her "Prancing Reindeer Afghan" is on the cover of this month's Crochet World Magazine (Dec. 2013)
Although Dottie has cut way back in the last few years, she does still name a few introductions each year, from a small field of previously selected seedlings she has been evaluating. She has limited stock of many of her past introductions available as well.
If you wish to contact Dottie, it is best to write to her or to email her.