Budding flower farmer hopes to make business out of hybrid daylilies

Jun 18, 2014

Whether you call it a preoccupation with perennials or a fondness for flowers, Cathy Jackie has an obvious obsession, a determined devotion to daylilies.

A retired art teacher from Wareham, Jackie has cultivated and hybridized thousands of daylilies at the home she shares with her husband Tom.

“I started generally saving seeds and replanting them,” said Jackie. “Then it turned to daylilies, and then it became an obsession.”

Jackie has mixed innumerable varieties of daylilies in an effort to create interesting color combinations and even stripes.

“The patterns, the colors that daylilies forms are just endless,” she said.

Right now, the farm has rows and rows of green leaves with daylily buds just starting to appear. The “big bloom” begins next month.

“For me, it’s like Christmas because everyday I come out and my new seedlings bloom,” said Jackie.

Jackie, a native of Connecticut, and her husband moved to Mattapoisett in 1977 after purchasing the 13-acres they now call TomCat Farm. Most of the property was wooded when they got it, but Jackie said they carved out fields little by little as their paychecks permitted.

Now, the two have enough space for a pair of horses, a large vegetable garden, chickens and, of course, daylilies.

As a hobby hybridizer, Jackie never knows exactly what she will get when she combines two daylily varieties or which new plants will thrive. Practice and research have given her better and faster results over the years.

“It used to take me three to four years to get a plant to bloom,” she said.

But new lilies seem to like the soil and sunlight on the part of the farm closest to River Road and have been blooming the first year, which Jackie says is almost unheard of for this part of the county.

Now with petals in reds, pinks, purples, yellows and everything in between, Jackie is turning her self-proclaimed obsession into a small business where she hopes to “earn just enough money to hire a few weeders and buy more daylilies.”

But until then, she's waiting for this year's flowers to open.

“In July, it will be like something out of a dream,” said Jackie.

TomCat Farm will welcome visitors on June 28 for the Mattapoisett Woman’s Club’s biannual garden tour “Down by the Bay.” Once the daylilies start to bloom, Jackie will bring them to the Mattapoisett Farmers Market to sell. They are also available for sale at the farm.

Tickets to the garden tour are available at the following shops: The Bookstall in Marion, Isabelles, Pen & Pendulum, Town Wharf General Store, and Ying Dynasty Restaurant in Mattapoisett.

Advance tickets are $15 for the tour only, and $40 for the tour and luncheon. Tickets on the day of the event will be $18. June 23 is the last day to purchase a lunch ticket. For additional information, call Barb Van Inwegen, 508 864-5213.