NEW PALESTINE — The deep red, purplish and yellow colored pedals on the lily were open, expressive, almost screaming to be seen. The flower was sitting boldly in full bloom, perched on top of a green stem.
The flower is just one of hundreds of different kinds of lilies and other plants growing inside the yard marked with an old engraved wooden sign showcasing Charlie’s Garden.
Chuck Conover, 71, has planted and grown more than 900 different lilies, all blooming in the front and back yard of his New Palestine home, making his landscape a sight to see, particularly when the lilies are in full bloom.
Story continues below gallery
The backyard is his favorite, he said.
There are early-medium lilies, medium lilies, late-medium and late blooming lilies growing throughout his front, side and back yards, meaning he always has beautiful flowers and plants to show off.
While Conover’s front yard had dozens of different day lilies bordering the edges of his home, in the back yard the true treasures can be found with more than 20 different lily beds strategically placed throughout his massive back yard, he said.
Conover’s lily garden was huge a few years ago, with hundreds of lilies, but since then it’s grown even larger, with 900 varieties, including one called “Beastman,” a bright orange lily with ruffled, teeth-like edges.
“She’s really putting out her teeth,” Conover said proudly, pointing the plant out.
There is nothing Conover likes better than opening his garden to anyone who wants to come over and see the flowers blooming, he said.
Conover spends at least eight hours a day tending to his garden, picking off the deadheads from the faded flowers, watering and getting rid of the weeds in the different beds.
By the time he gets all the weeds out, it’s time to start again, he said with a laugh.
From the lily known as the exotic starfish to the simple American icon lily, Conover has quite a variety and knows them all by name. But he’s quick to point out, there are more than 80,000 registered classes of day lilies, so he’s got quite a way to go on his collection.
He has a special reason for turning his New Palestine yard into an homage to the lily, he said.
Conover lost his wife, Alberta Conover, in 2003, and started using his spare time to make his yard look the way he knows she would have wanted, he said.
Before she died, the pair began digging the beds for the garden, he said.
One of his favorite lilies is the Asiatic lily. The flower grows taller than most lilies and blooms on top of a single stem covered in leaves, while day lilies have different shoots on their stems.
Conover admits his hobby has grown pretty much like his flowers through the years and has become his true passion.
“You can’t beat it,” he said. “Especially when the flowers are in bloom.”