Whether you call them lily, lilly, lilies, or lillies, Asiatic lilies, Species lilies, the Oriental & Trumpet lily, LA hybrids & AA cross lilies, Orienpet or Easterpet lilies...or maybe you think of all lilies as 'Tiger Lilies' but regardless, we once grew all kinds of lilies and we sold and shipped lily bulbs throughout North America and the world beyond.
We grew a wide variety of lilies from seed and bulbs, in our zone 3 garden on the Canadian Prairies, including asiatic, trumpet and oriental lilies such as Stargazer lily, and the best in interdivisional lily crosses, like the orienpet, asiapet and easterpet! On this site you will find useful lily growing tips and links to other sites dedicated to the love of lilies.
Plantlilies.com AKA Valley K Greenhouses (as of March 1, 2009 AKA Valley K Lily Ranch as the name was legally changed) 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.
Our goal from inception was to provide our clientele with quality plant material at an affordable price. We were confident our prices ere competitive WITHOUT any sacrifice to quality. We strived each and every day to improve our service and selection, enjoying the satisfaction that came from mingling with fellow gardeners and surprising them with unadvertised specials. Our philosophy was "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 sold hardy lily bulbs, with a specific focus on Canadian bred lilies and hardy hybrids, although we did sell the odd trumpet & oriental lily as well. Most bulbs were grown here on our acreage, and provided 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 purchased many varieties directly from the breeders, we still grew at least a bulb or two (hah, a few short years ago there was more than 20,000!) of each variety we sold, plus all the lilies growing for evaluation purposes. We also had a growing number of breeders sending us stock for evaluation and propagation, provided they proved 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 separate it from our general gardening site, valleyk.com (removed from cyberspace in 2010). It was removed to allow us to continue to focus on our specialty of lilies and we no longer had the time to maintain the other site. In 2004 we purchased a large lily collection from a private grower, and replanted thousands of bulbs here in the fall. This 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 could 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 years we did this, with a conservative estimate of 5000 to 7000 in a 6 week period of 2006 - 2007 (the last year 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 daughter meant closing the gates to the public for good, 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 she had full recovery, our gates remained closed as I just didn't have the gumption I had previously to tackle the 5 acres of gardens by myself. There was also the issue of insurance liability, always a concern for business owners in this day & age.
2020 was the final year of business for Valley K. Initially planned for 2019, dreadful weather & growing conditions forced our last year of sales to be delayed. After exactly 30 years of growing and loving lilies, this lily lover was looking forward to retirement! It is intended for this web site to stay up as a reference, and who knows....I just might find the time to continue writing articles for it...Lord knows there's been no time for that for at least 15 years!
Over the last 5 years great reductions and sellouts of many varieties have occurred and as of 2020 we had about 450 varieties still growing here, in 13 beds rather than 23. At the end of the season remaining lily bulb stock was purchased and moved to a new location with a new owner and new business name. Stay tuned for announcements in that regard, can't wait to share it with you!
In the final year of business for Valley K Lily Ranch, bulb stock was a virtual sell out within 1 week of the online catalog release. Final orders were shipped out by this very weary lily grower by mid October 2020. The lily stock was almost completely depleted with very little left over and in some cases I was unable to save even a baby of choice varieties for myself! I'm quite certain I lost a good number of choice varieties since they were quite small or in poor shape going into the winter of 2020-2021; a very dry summer in 2021 only made the growing conditions worse. I also wasn't around to do any watering until early August unfortunately. I'm anxious to see what comes up in spring 2022 for sure!
In the meantime I hope you find the information on this site useful in your gardening ventures and I thank you for reading and for your interest in our history. Have a great day!