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HomeGrown: Oakes Daylilies in Corryton

11:36 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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It's a breathtaking sight in Corryton- daylilies as far as the eye can see.

"There's so many different colors, shapes and sizes," says Ken Oakes. "My favorite is the last one I looked at."

The Oakes family certainly has a green thumb when it comes to beautiful blooms. You'll find their daylilies at amusement parks from Disneyland to Dollywood, the New York Botanical Gardens and in many national publications from "Better Homes and Garden" to "Southern Living."

But in the early days, Oakes daylilies attracted just insects and the occasional neighbor.

"It was basically a hobby that got out of hand," said Stewart Oakes.

"My father and grandfather both enjoyed growing all sorts of plants," added Ken.

Bill and Stewart Oakes stumbled upon daylilies back in the '60s.

"And the next thing you know the whole side yard is full of daylilies."

In the '80s, Oakes Daylilies grew from part-time to a mail order business. And, it really took off when Ken, a marketing major, graduated from college.

"The first year he published a color catalog which cost more than all the money we had grossed the previous year," said Stewart. "And, I thought this is a big roll of the dice."

But it paid off.

"I've been pleasantly pleased ever since."

And, it's grown even more thanks to the internet. Most of the daylilies are grown off site.

"Probably 60-70 acres of them all together," said Ken.

The six acres at Oakes Farm are actually just display gardens.
There are also a dozen greenhouses where father and son experiment with new hybrids.

"We grow about 1,500 different varieties which is more than you need, but we're always trying to find new varieties and see which ones turn out."

Oakes created several varieties of daylilies including the Red Volunteer, Orange Vols and Corryton Pink.

And even though Bill Oakes is no longer living, his legacy blooms on. In fact, every summer, thousands visit Corryton just to see the daylilies at Oakes' annual two-day festival.

"I think we had about 35 or 36 states represented last year."

Oakes Daylilies...

"Daylilies need a warning label because they can be so addictive."

Born in Corryton,

"Bloom where you're planted. That just seems what I've been called to do. I just had the opportunity to be able to bloom here doing this in the place where I've grown up."

HomeGrown in Tennessee.

In addition to daylilies, Oakes also sells perennials, even ornamental grasses.

Oakes 2012 Daylily Bloom Festival is June 29th and 30th. It is free to the public.

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