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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Morton woman operates daylily farm in East Peoria

  • Theresa Roth loses track of time in her “office.” Her “office” has a lot of space and a 360 degree view. It is a daylily farm.

    “I’ll be out here 13-14 hours. I’ll be out here at 5 o’clock in the morning and sometimes I don’t go home until 9. It’s dark. ... To me, it’s not work. To me, work is vacuuming or cleaning,” she said.
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  • Theresa Roth loses track of time in her “office.” Her “office” has a lot of space and a 360 degree view. It is a daylily farm.
    “I’ll be out here 13-14 hours. I’ll be out here at 5 o’clock in the morning and sometimes I don’t go home until 9. It’s dark. ... To me, it’s not work. To me, work is vacuuming or cleaning,” she said.
    Roth’s love of gardening began at a young age in Alaska where she lived with her family. Her dad liked to garden. Roth said things grew well in Alaska because of all of the light. Cabbages grew to be 60 pounds.
    “I started a little rock garden with seeds,” she said.
    “I just love gardening. I always have. You start something from seed and it grows and blooms; it’s a miracle almost every day.” 
    Roth, 55, of Morton, has been operating Roth Daylily Farm for four years. The farm is located at 140 Roth Auction Road, East Peoria. The daylilies, along with other types of flowers, are planted in a side yard at a home that belonged to Roth’s husband, Jim’s, grandparents and then his aunt.
    “When she passed away she left her house and this yard and her half of the farm. About that same time someone told us they were selling daylilies north of Springfield,” Roth said. “I bought 25.”
    The following year, Roth bought 20 more daylilies. Then, when a man told Roth he could no longer take care of his daylilies, Roth bought 800 clumps. Now she has 2,000 varieties.
    “We brought them up here and they got planted,” she said.
    As she walked through her garden, Roth talked passionately about her daylilies and her garden, which she doesn’t really consider work at all.
    “I like the different sizes. There’s tiny ones. ... And then there’s huge. They go from 2 inches, 1 1/2 inches, clear up to 11, 12 inches,” she said.
    Daylilies bloom at different seasons and times. Roth likes this aspect because she said this way she gets flowers that bloom constantly. 
    “The peak I would say is around the Fourth of July, around that time, or the week after. The Fourth of July, it’s just solid color,” she said.
    Page 2 of 3 - Roth creates her own variety of daylilies. 
    “You can take pollen and put it on the stem of another plant, two plants that you think would make both desirable traits you like and you want to create a new flower, so you cross pollinate. You wait for the seeds and try to keep track of the parents,” Roth said.
    Daylilies only last for one day, but each plant has hundreds of buds.
    “It puts out its most beautiful everything just for one day,” Roth said. “Everyday new plants come out. Every single morning when you come out they’re completely fresh and new.”
    As she walked around her garden, birds chirped and butterflies fluttered around the flowers.
    “I think of them as flying flowers,” Roth said.
    She called attention to a yellow finch that landed on her bird feeder and said she loves nature. She gets grubs from the ground and puts them in a dish for the birds to eat.
    “It’s just nice. I really like it out here,” Roth said.
    Roth considers her daylily farm a full-time job, even in the winter. She said there is always something to do, whether it’s pulling weeds, filling orders or creating things to decorate her garden.
    “I sell all winter. I list plants and I show plants on Facebook and people order them. Kind of all winter I’m selling. It takes a lot of time. You’ve got to put the pictures up and keep track of who bought what,” Roth said.
    Most of Roth’s business comes from her website and Facebook page, but she also has customers from central Illinois who come to the farm. The daylilies range from $6-$60.
    “A couple of weeks ago I sold one for $65,” Roth said.
    Spring is a busy time for Roth. There’s equipment to get out of storage, mulching to do and weeds to pull before the flowers can be considered. She doesn’t let rain stop her unless it’s pouring. When it’s 

    raining, she works in her little shop creating tags for her flowers or making concrete leaves for her garden.
    “I might go home and clean the house as a last resort,” she said.
    Page 3 of 3 - Roth sees her husband, Jim, when he drives over to bring her a drink or bring her a sandwich. Jim operates Roth Auction on the same property.
    “He’s over there all day,” Roth said.
    Roth’s 3 acre garden has a little sidewalk path she put in, as well as an area she calls the baby bed. She used a white picket fence to create a headboard and a footboard to make that area of the garden look like a bed. 
    As to how much she has invested in her daylily farm, Roth said she is not sure.
    “I try not to keep track of it,” she said. “Well, the mulch is free. The people that go around and chop up trees and bring it out here. The edges are mulched with horse manure. It’s mostly sawdust. ... I have like a mountain of it out there,” Roth said.
    Roth said she plans to operate her daylily farm well into the future.
    “I’ll always garden, as long as possible,” she said.
    The hours at Roth’s Daylily Farm are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays. Her business card states that she is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May through July or by appointment. Roth also offers hostas, succulents and garden decor for sale at her farm.
    For more information, call 369-0068 or visit www.daylilyfans.com/roth.

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