NEW PALESTINE — Every night, just as the sun is going down, Chuck Conover sits in a chair on what he calls his perch, high above his two-acre backyard.
It’s where he relaxes and takes in the colorful view of what he’s created.
“You’ll notice there is no railing on the front of my perch because it would spoil my view,” Conover, 68, of New Palestine, said.
Over the past 20 years, he’s filled his back and front yards full of lilies and other flowers and plants.
He’s planted and cared for hundreds of different lilies and has them planted in phases so some will always be in bloom during the spring, summer and fall.
“I probably have over 750 different kinds in here, but I’ve only identified 680 of them so far,” he said. “I’ve always kept track of the names of the plants I’ve bought, and they’re all around the yard here somewhere.”
After spending countless hours researching and identifying each and every lily planted, once in the ground Conover marks them with name tags so others can learn more about what they’re seeing.
“What I love is when people come over and truly enjoy themselves here,” he said. “I like it when they take the time to look at the flower because when they don’t, they’re not really enjoying the difference in the flowers.”
Conover said he fell in love with the day lily because there are so many varieties to capture the eye.
“You’ve got early day lilies, medium day lilies and late-day lilies and there are over 80,000 registered day lilies and umpteen hybridizers,” he said. “They’ve been blooming out here for over a month, and right now I am pretty well in my peak bloom.”
In order to get his yard to look like a floral haven, Conover spends at least three hours each day dead-heading his lilies, cutting away the dead flowers.
“In the winter, I keep books in there by my chair, and I’m always on the computer looking at different flowers,” he said. “When I was working, this was a hobby, but since I retired a few years ago, it’s become my addiction.”
While Conover has no formal training in botany, he belongs to two day lily clubs in Indianapolis where he meets with others who have an affinity for the flower.
“We get hybridizers coming in, showing us what they will be hybridizing for the next year,” he said.
Not only does Conover know the vast difference in each flower, he’s intrigued by the lily and knows its story. He said some people will refer to the day lily as the ditch lily or the outhouse lily, but it’s actually called the fulva.
Conover has planted day lilies from all over the United States and Canada and says each flower is as different as each person.
“A lot of people will just look at the color of the lily, but when you start looking at the eye patterns, you’ll notice some of them have teeth on them,” he said.
As for selecting his favorite lily among the hundreds of different kinds, Conover said that can change with each day.
“It just depends on how the sun hits it,” he said.
While Conover’s yards are already full of hundreds of different beautiful lilies, plants and other flowers, he said he’s nowhere close to slowing down and has plans for several new beds in the future.
“It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble,” he said with a laugh.