Slightly Different History

To say my background is "diverse" is an understatement beyond comprehension. The youngest of six children, with two Social Workers for parents... well, let's just say that my parents encouraged diversity in their kids. With a foundation of "free thinking" and resourcefulness, what's an inquisitive boy to do? When moving from home at just 13, the constant barrage of new experiences seemed endless. With my family's constant attention, I was never alone, and in fact have been so close with them that I nearly feel as though I've vicariously lived their lives as well. As a result of such a crazy upbringing, I was lucky to learn that I actually thrive on diversity... and just can't seem to live without it!

Nine years of college fueled the flame of my interest in education, yet produced no degree. I've always been interested in too many things to limit myself with a title, and would tend to feel I'd "learned enough" before being given one. Raised on the beaches of south Florida, my teens in Appalachia, backpacking Europe, camping in over 50 US National Parks, living in Midtown Manhattan... letís just say that I enjoy life and all that it has to offer. I honestly think that living this kind of life is exactly what landed me where I am today. Basing my beliefs on realism and science, I've a great appreciation of what living life has shown me.

In 1990, I bought a home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The challenge of completely renovating the landscape ignited my interest in perennials. Within a few months, I was working in a greenhouse with rare and unusual plants... and loved seeing things that no one else had! A year later, and I was growing wholesale perennials for the trade.

A propagator (and perfectionist) at heart, I took pride in producing high quality and unusual plant material for people to experience. Even with hundreds of before unseen cultivars to offer, I began hybridizing several species of rare plants mainly for the "fun of it". Within a short time, I found myself holding multiple patents on some very intriguing new things! The problem was finding people within delivery range that shared my enthusiasm.

One Fall, after rearranging a display bed, I accidentally left a clump of a favorite perennial on top of a rock wall. Seven months later, in Spring, I saw a clump of green atop the rocky perch... it was my favorite daylily, coming back for more! There it was, a tough little plant that might just be able to endure the trauma of shipping... I could now think of "getting outa Dodge" and into the world! I got online, and went for broke.

In the two years it took to change over from perennials to exclusively daylilies, I wasted no time in getting started with hybridizing them. I appreciated again, the diversity one could achieve by studying the characteristics and making intelligent crosses. Sure, 3 years of applied college Microbiology and Genetics came in handy, but this was living ART!

In August, 2005, I managed to move 1100 named cultivars (from other hybridizers) and 10,000 seedling clumps (selected from nearly 40K) to Polkville, NC. Assuredly the most monumental task I've ever pulled off, I think I've certainly paid my dues when it comes to "proving" that my dedication to daylilies is truly unwavering. Having survived in zone 5 for long enough, the allure of zone 7 was in itself too much to resist! I never would have dreamed that I'd land in "the ultimate spot", where both my beloved kids and I could feel we've indeed found true nirvana.

Diversity, the spice of life. I can honestly say that if I died today, I could feel pretty good about having utilized my chance to experience so much beauty in life... as well as all the fun I had playing with it.

Paul Owen

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