FRED FELLNER (1931 - 2022)
I was devastated and filled with sadness to learn of Fred Fellner passing away, despite that he lived a good, long life. I was angry at COVID-19 for instilling fears, robbing us of time and restricting us from visiting the last two years. We've lost a remarkable, unpretentious man with strong morals and faith. Generosity could have been his middle name since he was that generous with his time, his knowledge and with his lilies.
Much of the success of Valley K AKA plantlilies.com was due to my growing, selling and registering Fellner lilies. He not only supplied the lily bulbs but helpful growing and breeding tips were shared as we went through his lily fields or talked on the phone each year. His fields were always impeccable, nary a weed to be seen and if there was, it was tiny and instantly wiped out with a special twist of his boot - a twist I am still trying to master! He taught me as much about making gardening tasks easier as he did about lilies. I can't tell you how many times I thanked him in my head over the years for some tip he shared.
I will forever treasure my memories of picnic lunches while meeting Alex Burnett at Fred's farm each July. We would tramp through the lily fields while admiring the latest and greatest of Fred's hybrids in full bloom and I would flag my selects, before they let me loose to dig them out while they went for a nap (ha!). Fred would check on me hours later, about the time I was ready to quit and insist I take more if the SUV wasn't filled to the roof already!
Fred literally beamed when he spoke of lily breeding and advancements, often saying 'the best is yet to come' and he genuinely believed it. Through his life-long lily hybridizing he has shared with the world some of the best performing garden lilies, some of the most stunningly beautiful lilies and often both qualities are found in the same plant. Lilies with stature, lilies with vibrant long-lasting colours, lilies with staying power are characteristic of virtually any Fellner lily. This is his legacy to the gardening and lily loving world, for I have no doubt his lilies will be used as breeding parents for decades to come.
May he rest in well-deserved, blissful peace.
Obituary from Creech's Lakeland Funeral Home & Crematorium, Vermilion AB.
Check out this article as an introduction to Mr. Fellner (written August 2008)
We have so many evaluation lilies (unregistered yet) from Mr. Fellner they each deserve their own gallery! One of these days.....
- Alice Moger - (1994 B. Strohman) Pale yellow-green grows deeper colored in center of each petal. White throat, with a halo of brown spots around center of flower. Heavy substance in the petals. Grows 2 feet tall, blooms July. [Ib]
- Alberta Rose - (1993) Unspotted pink, grows 18 inches tall, blooming in July. [Ib]
- Amelia Donna - 2003 (2014 Valley K Lily Ranch) [Ia]
- Apricot Cream - (1987) [Ib/c] #6
- Baby Pink Bells - 1980 (2002) Dusty rose pink with a few spots, grows .8M tall, blooming in mid July. [Ic]
- Brown Buttercup - (1995) Red with a yellow-green throat, unspotted. Red turns yellow-bronze with age. Grows 2 feet tall, blooms mid July. [Ia]
- Butterfly Kisses - 2008 (NR introduced 2017 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Carol Jean - (1979 w/ Simonet) [Ia]
- Coppertone (1991) Wide, copper colored petals with a deeper throat. Lightly spotted, grows to 3 feet tall, blooming in late July. [Ia]
- Darlin' - 2000 (NR introduced 2015 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Diana - pre 1980 (2001 w/ Simonet) NR name rejected. Ivory white with brown spots. Large pyramidal inflorescence. Stems grow to .9M tall. L. cernuum x l. lancifolium cross. [Ib]
- Denise - (1980 w/ Simonet) [Ib]
- Dori Jo -
- Elenore Edna - (1977 w/ Simonet) [Ia]
- Eliza Marilyn - 2007 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Erin Kate - 1996 (2013 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- El Tigre - 2003 (2014 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Fancy Nancy - 1998 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- FF88 Select - 1988 (NR introduced 1998 Valley K Greenhouses)
- FF Test Stock - 2003 (NR introduced 2013 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Firefox - 1998 (2005 Valley K Greenhouses) Vivid orangy-yellow with red tips and lots of dark spotting. Botrytis resistant, dark mottled stems grow to 1M, blooms late July. [Ia]
- Fred's Red - (NR, introduced 2014 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Golden Summer - (1987) [Ia] #6
- Happy Camper - 2005 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2020
- Heather's Promise - 1999 (2005 Valley K Greenhouses) Stunning stems of fuzzy buds open to white flowers with a deep pink blush, raised papillae and loads of purple spotting. Dark, mottled stems are very sturdy with the deepest green foliage, growing to 1.2M. Raceme inflorescence is a show winner, too bad it blooms in late July or early August when all the shows are finished! [Ia]
- High Prairie - 2003 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2017
- Honey Pink - (1986) Big, dainty looking pale pink flowers with a white stripe in the center of each petal. Grows to 1M tall. Has l. cernuum in the parentage. [Ib/c]
- Hummer Pink - (NR, introduced 2017 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Ice Cream - (1978) [Ia]
- Keeper - 2006 (2022 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2020
- Kimberly Ann - (1979 w/ Simonet) [Ib]
- Lea's Beauty - 2005 (2019 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Liam John - ? (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2020
- Lillian DesRoches - 2001 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2015
- Lillian Eileen 2001 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Lily Simonet - (1977 w/ Simonet) [Ia]
- Linda May - (1993) Creamy yellow with pink tips, some dark spotting in center. Grows 18-24 inches tall with black stems blooming in mid July. [Ib-c]
- Lindsey Jennifer - (1986) Unspotted soft orange, grows to 1.1M tall blooming mid July. [Ia]
- Little Bitty - 2005 (NR introduced 2017 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Marjorie Linda - (1977 w/ Simonet) [Ib/c]
- Mary Margaret - (1994 B. Strohman) Purple pink with light orange-yellow throat. Small, dark spots. Blackish stems grow just over 3 feet tall, blooming in July. [Ia]
- Master Gardener - (1995) Light orange-yellow overlaid with strong orange in the throat, and dark pink tips. Fine, dark red spotting. Stems grow to 4 feet, blooming in July. [Ib]
- Master's Touch - (1996 W. G. Ronald) White with purple spotting and a purple edge to petals. No pollen produced. Grows to .38M tall, blooms mid July. [Ia]
- Melissa Jamie -(1986) Soft pink tips with a creamy lemon center and a few spots. Grows .6M tall. [Ib]
- Melusina - (1991) aka Nelesina [Ia]
- Miss Cas - 2012 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2017
- Miss Congeniality - 2003 (2013 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2010
- Mother Teresa - (1995) Almost white with an outside green/cream. Very few dark, fine spots at the base of the petals. Rich brown pollen, stems grow 2 feet tall, blooms inn mid July. [Ib]
- Mrs. Bright - 1999 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2008
- Parkland Orange - (1991) Clear orange inside, very few fine spots, grows to 3 feet tall, blooms mid July. [Ia]
- Pink Peach - (1991) Flesh pink coloring, no spotting. Grows 2 feet tall, blooms in late July, with a high bud count. [Ia]
- Planters Pink - 1998 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2008
- Plumblossom - (1994 B. Strohman) Pale purple-pink throughout, unspotted. Color fades slightly with age. Grows 2 feet tall on blackish-green stems. Blooms July. [Ia]
- Port Alberni Tiger - pre 1997 (1999) According to RHS registry, this is an unacceptable name. Just like the orange tiger lily, but much taller with larger flowers and a later bloom period. Fred says it can hit 3M tall in a good year! Blooms anywhere from late July to September. Found in Port Alberni, British Columbia by Fred Fellner. [Ic]
- Prairie Jewel - 1997 (2005 Valley K Greenhouses) This tough and hardy garden performer grows just .8M tall, with lots of very fuzzy buds opening into ruby red flowers with a heavily frosted white star center. Dotted with tiny deeper red spots, also develops secondary buds regularly. Blooms late July and is Botrytis resistant and fade-proof. All in all, a very fine garden lily. [Ia/d]
- Prairie Kiss - 2000 (2013 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2012
- Prairie Sun - 1999 (2015 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Quicksilver - 2005 (NR introduced 2017 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Raspberry On Whip - (1996) Cream overlay with raspberry and loads of spots. Blooms in July on 3' stems. Strong garden lily with lots of buds. [Ib]
- Red Blaze - (1999) Red with frosted throat and large dark spots on half of each petal. Slightly wavy-edged petals, blooms mid July on 3 foot stems. [Ib]
- Red Galaxy - (1999) Red with a slight orange tinge above pink nectaries. Very fine, dark spotting over most of the petal. Grows 2-3 feet tall, blooms late July. [Ib/c]
- Red Raven - (1994) Blackish red throughout with black spots around nectary. Grows to 3 feet, blooms late July. [Ib]
- Red Pine - (1994) Orangy-red throughout with green-cream outside. No spotting, blooms on stems under 2 feet tall in late July. [Ib]
- Rizzo - 1998 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2008
- Robert Simonet - (1977) [Ic]
- Rohan - 2003 (2015 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Rosemary Margaret - (1994 B. Strohman) Purple-red with numerous deeper colored spots over 3/4 of the petal. Blooms in July on dark, green-black 2 foot stems. [Ib]
- Sally Jo Ann (1979 w/ Simonet) Bright, shiny, hot pink petals with very faint spotting. Blooms in July on 3 foot stems. Although this lily is commonly listed as a Fellner hybrid, Mr. Simonet in fact did the original cross, while Mr. Fellner grew, named and registered it. [Ib]
- Salmon Cream - (1991) Peach pink fading to pale peach with large flowers and a sprinkling of spots. Blooms late July on 3-4 foot stems. [Ia]
- Sheri Katherine - (1993) Copper toning, spotted. Grows 1M tall, blooms mid July. [Ia]
- Shirley Marie - (1993) Pale yellow, unspotted. Grows to 3 feet tall, blooms late July. [Ia-b]
- Short Stop - 2000 (2013 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2011
- Snow Leopard - (1999) Creamy white with loads of red-brown spots over most of the petal. Grows to 2 feet tall, blooms late July. [Ia/b]
- Small Town Girl - 2000 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2017
- Smokie - (1994) Smoked or burnt orange, unspotted. Grows 2 feet tall, blooming in July. [Ia]
- Sour Cream Raisin Pie - 2006 (NR introduced 2017 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Spacious Living - (1987) Bright yellow, unspotted with brown pollen. Grows just over 1.1M tall, with a high bud count in July. [Ia]
- Striptease - 1999 (2013 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2007
- Thea Rose - 2014 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Tina's Love - 2001 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Tweetie Pie - 2006 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2017
- Valley Girl - 1998 (2010 Valley K Lily Ranch)
- Vendla - 2004 (2021 Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced in 2020
- Wanda - (1978 w/ Simonet) [Ia]
- Wesley Byron - 2004 (2021Valley K Lily Ranch) Introduced 2020
- Yellow Joy - 1975 (1987) Green throat, yellow flowers with black spotting on half the petals. Grows 1M tall, blooms in July with a good bud count. [Ia]
Incomplete list, last updated March 2015 - I'm still working on it!!
Fred Fellner was born near Myrnam, Alberta in the summer of 1931. He was born and raised on a family farm northwest of Vermilion, where he still lives and farms today. Many of Fred's lilies are named after family, friends, and family of friends.
Fred's interest in horticulture began with trees and perennials, something which he still retains an interest in today. He has mentioned briefly he would like to start breeding hardy Prairie perennials, and has always been attracted to native plants and grasses. In the late 60's he planted perennials and lilies to grow and sell. Soon he discarded the perennials and began breeding lilies. Fred lists his early influences as Robert Simonet and Fred Tarlton, who he looked to for guidance and advice. Exchanging letters with both, he developed long-standing friendships with both, and has also registered a few of his lilies listing himself and Simonet as the breeders.
Upon first meeting Fred on a visit to his fields, I was struck by his quiet, un-assuming nature, and the strength he exudes, despite his almost 70 years! He was eager to show me his fields, and took the time to explain parentage and other details whenever I commented on a particular lily. I could have spent all day snapping pictures and listening to his comments, except I had my 4 year old daughter with, and she had a different agenda than I. I learned a lot from him that day - and gained a great respect for the dedication involved in breeding, and the unselfishness and generosity displayed by Fred, for of course, he could not let me go home empty-handed.
Fred attributes his challenges in growing lilies to climate, much like other breeders throughout the world. Near Vermilion, he is constantly challenged by excessive rain, hail, early frosts and lack of snow cover. Due to early frosts, he hasn't had much success collecting seed from his crosses growing in the fields, so he started potting his chosen subjects and bringing them into the greenhouse for pollination, with much better success at collecting viable seed. Botrytis is his biggest challenge, and many of his lilies are bred with botrytis resistance in mind. Asiatics are the only lilies Fred is interested in breeding - he says he doesn't have enough patience to wait for Martagons to bloom, and perhaps he'll try them in his old age!
Can you believe Fred has regrets about some of the lilies he's registered? He says he does, although for the life of me I cannot understand why. Most of his lilies are still going strong 30 years later! His favorite registered lily is "Sally Joann". If you haven't guessed already, my favorite Prairie Hybridizer is...Fred Fellner!
It was this first visit with Fred which prompted me to start this particular section dedicated to Prairie Hybridizers, because in talking with him I realized he was hesitant to commit to selling me too many of his lilies because of the work involved in harvesting in fall, and his other commitments on the farm. I am most concerned that soon he will stop propagating his registered varieties because of these factors, which will in turn make them unavailable and/or harder to find for lily enthusiasts. In conversation with Fred I discovered he no longer has bulbs of some of his long-ago, registered varieties, and I worry they may be lost forever, or worse, kept under propagation by those more interested in money than the beauty of sharing his great work.
The same is true for many of the prairie-bred lilies by other fellows, some of which have passed on and it is already too late to preserve their work, thus my mission to begin preserving as many as I can. I am delighted to know and learn along my journey, that there are many avid gardeners out there with the same mission, some absolutely zealous about collecting lilies bred by such great folks as Skinner, Patterson & Porter. It is with the help, co-operation & sharing of these gardeners and breeders that I am able to continue my quest.