Plantlilies.com AKA Valley K Greenhouses (as of March 1, 2009 AKA Valley K Lily Ranch) was established with a lot of hard work (and apprehension) in March of 1990 on an acreage located just 1/4 mile south of the scenic Battle River Valley, southeast of Camrose, Alberta, Canada.
We started out by selling our plants and bulbs at the local Farmer's Markets. I remember telling my husband when we moved here that one day he would look out the kitchen window and see nothing but flowers - he laughed at me then, wondering how I was going to do that when the pasture came right up to the step and the surface all around was either rock or sand! We've moved a lot of black soil around and on to this property to accommodate the landscaping ideas as they develop, as well as choosing plants that can live in the native conditions. Some days I wish I wasn't so ambitious, because it's a lot of work, but it's all worth while when I hear people say they can't believe this is the same place we purchased in 1989, twenty years ago now. I like to think we've inspired many people in the area to keep up their own yards over the years, and we've made it easy to do so by providing many of the items needed in a good landscape, so close to home!
Our goal from inception has been to provide our clientele with quality plant material at an affordable price. We are confident our prices are very competitive WITHOUT any sacrifice to quality. We strive each and every day to improve our service and selection, enjoying the satisfaction that comes from mingling with fellow gardeners and surprising them with unadvertised specials. Our philosophy has always been that "No matter the profit, honesty is still the best policy" and on the subject of competition, "Competition should make you better at what you do, so everyone benefits - customers get better service and better products - we get more customers!" It's simple really, if you look at it any other way, you can't have enough faith in your service or products!
In 1994 we began to wholesale our greenhouse products to local stores, and in 1997 with the help of the internet, we launched our mail order division. With this arm of the business, we sell hardy lily bulbs, with a specific focus on Canadian bred lilies and hardy hybrids, although we do sell the odd trumpet & oriental lily as well. Most bulbs are grown here on our acreage, and provide a splendid display from mid July through the end of September. In 1999, we began purchasing some bulbs directly from a few breeders as we were running out of time and space to propagate, and there was a definite need to increase our variety list. Even though we purchase many varieties directly from the breeders, we still grow at least a bulb or two (hah, there's over 20,000 in the ground here!) of each variety we sell, just for evaluation purposes, and for your viewing pleasure. We also have a growing number of breeders sending us stock for evaluation and propagation, provided they prove to be great garden lilies.
We have had a web site since 1997, adding an Online Catalog of lilies in the Fall of 1998. Secure online ordering was in place by the Fall of 1999. In January 2003 we launched this site, plantlilies.com dedicated completely to our love of lilies, and to seperate it from our general gardening site, valleyk.com which was removed from cyberspace in 2010, as we continue to focus on our specialty of lilies and no longer have the time to maintain this other general gardening site. In 2004 we purchased a large lily collection from a private grower, and replanted thousands of bulbs here in the fall. This has increased our selection to over 1000 unique varieties of lilies, with the stem count numbering in the thousands. We also made a decision to discontinue the growing and selling of annuals, ornamentals and bedding plants, starting in 2005. Now we can focus on our true passion, lilies!
In an effort to accommodate the growing number of people wishing to view and purchase the lilies through the summer months, we hosted Open Gardens, from mid July to mid August for a few years. We saw thousands of visitors in the few years we did this, with a conservative estimate of 5 to 7000 in a 6 week period of 2006 - 2007 the last years we were open, based on our guest book and average vehicle count per day. Unfortunately in 2008 Open Gardens were canceled as we were wiped out by a massive hail storm in early June. In 2009 a diagnosis of Leukemia for my teenage child meant closing the gates to the public for good (with no warning) the week before opening day. It has always been a struggle to balance family with this type of business, this diagnosis was the straw that broke the camels back, so to speak. Although we have reasonable expectations for her full recovery, she will be 16 years old before treatment is done - 2 1/2 to 3 years down the road, so our gates will remain closed for a few years yet and it is highly unlikely they will open to the public again as I am aging and probably will not have the gumption I have today to tackle the 5 acres of gardens by then! But, there is a huge photo gallery that is updated yearly for your viewing pleasure. I know its not the same as walking through the lilies, but it is going to have to do for now. Please go take a peak at the photo gallery, I myself find it quite interesting to compare photos from year to year to see the vast differences which can be observed easily in the photos - both in the beds and in the individual varieties!