Rainbow mountain

More than 250 prize daylilies to begin blooming at Cedar Crest this month

Created date

May 23rd, 2019
Carolyn Young transplanted 250 types of lilies to Cedar Crest when she moved there in 2015. Starting this month, admirers can expect to see a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Carolyn Young transplanted 250 types of lilies to Cedar Crest when she moved there in 2015. Starting this month, admirers can expect to see a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Later this month, the grounds of Cedar Crest will be abloom with generations of daylilies. 

Carolyn Young has grown more than 1,000 daylilies since the 1980s. She estimates she has grown more than 800 plants at times. In fall 2014, she had her collection transplanted to Cedar Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J., where she moved in March 2015.

The perennials will begin blooming this month and last through August, some into September. If you’re in the area or visiting the community, be sure to take a walk or drive around campus to witness this rainbow of blossoms.

It takes a village

While the community’s grounds crew does most of the maintenance, Carolyn says it’s been a community effort to keep the plants beautiful all season long.

“Neighbors are helping to pick off the dead blooms. I don’t know where all my help is coming from, but people like [the flowers] and enjoy them,” she says. “It makes me feel good.”

Carolyn says moving to Cedar Crest has been a blessing and a way to maintain her hobby and passion for growing prize daylilies. In 2012, she was diagnosed with leukemia. While she was receiving treatment, she contracted pneumonia. At the time, she had been living in a small single-family house in a retirement community in New York, where she was caring for 250 daylilies.

“At the time, I didn’t have the strength to keep working out there,” she says. She knew she needed a more maintenance-free lifestyle so she could focus on her health, yet she hesitated to move for fear of leaving her beloved lilies.

When Carolyn visited Cedar Crest for a personal tour and told the sales team about her plants, they immediately worked toward accommodating Carolyn and her daylilies. They devised a plan with Cedar Crest Grounds Supervisor Ted Thiessen to transplant more than 250 varieties of daylilies to two locations at the community.

“This was an effort to bring the whole person to Cedar Crest,” Thiessen says. “The daylilies were a huge part of Carolyn’s life, and it was important to have a part of home come here. We can’t do it with everything and everyone, but we are happy we were able to make this happen. It really enhances the community and adds that personal touch.”

Above and beyond

Transplanting her daylilies isn’t the only way Cedar Crest has accommodated Carolyn. When she moved in 2015, she chose a ground floor apartment home, thinking she was too afraid of heights for anything higher. But when she visited an available seventh-floor, Oxford-style apartment a few years later, she liked it better and realized her fear of heights was unfounded.

The sales team made arrangements for Carolyn to move to the two-bedroom, two-bath Oxford floor plan on the seventh floor. She sleeps in the second bedroom and uses the master as a guest bedroom and work room for various projects—knitting, crocheting, sewing, and Christmas crafts. She utilizes the two large, walk-in closets for storage.

“I can look across to the mountains,” she says of her view. “It’s fun to watch the birds and look out at the trees. I’ve always liked the trees and lived almost all my life with a lot of trees around me. Nature is my sanctuary.”

Although Carolyn has a generous kitchen to prepare breakfast and lunch, she enjoys dinner out with neighbors at the community’s restaurants, which she finds very accommodating as well. Due to her health history, Carolyn has a rare food allergy to animal products. She says the chefs and restaurant managers recognize her when she comes to dinner and ensure they prepare her meals without animal products.

For example, she says, on St. Patrick’s Day, Woodland Commons Restaurant Manager Charles Johnson alerted her to the fact that the cabbage was cooked with the corned beef and offered to have a special dish prepared that was steamed in water instead.

“I was so excited by that. He was standing there waiting for me to arrive,” she says.

It’s those small efforts that make a big difference to the people who live at Cedar Crest.

Getting older, feeling younger

Now, four years after moving to Cedar Crest, Carolyn and her daylilies are thriving. “I tell people I’m getting older but I’m feeling younger,” she says.

Although Carolyn still enjoys her daylilies, she no longer has to exert all the effort required to care for them. Instead, she focuses on her physical and mental health. She volunteers, takes fitness classes, and loves spending time socializing with friends.

“The other night at dinner—there were six of us who have eaten together before—we got to laughing so hard. We were just laughing our heads off that night. And at some point, I looked around and saw a lot of people who look familiar. I may not remember all their names, but I realized I’m not alone now,” Carolyn says.