Barbara and Earl Watts receive nation's highest Daylily Award

Barbara and Earl Watts receive nation's highest Daylily Award
Barbara and Earl Watts display the Helen Field Fischer Gold Medal Award. Photo Credit: Bill Monroe
Barbara and Earl Watts display the Helen Field Fischer Gold Medal Award. Photo Credit: Bill Monroe

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from the Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society.

Barbara and Earl Watts of Hattiesburg, have received the Helen Field Fischer Gold Medal Award from the American Hemerocallis Society, (AHS) the national daylily organization. This award is the AHS highest honor and is awarded annually for distinguished and meritorious service by an AHS member on the national level. It is named for the founder of the American Hemerocallis Society. The award was presented by current President of AHS Julie Covington, at the AHS national convention recently in Atlanta, GA.

The Watts have Suburban Daylilies in West Hattiesburg, and are one of the largest daylily growers in the region.

According to the nomination made, Earl and Barbara work in tandem. Neither does anything without input, suggestions, and assistance from the other. Together, Earl and Barbara have, by example, embodied the meaning of service to AHS and its members at all levels.

Barbara and Earl Watts began their affiliation with AHS in the 1980's as members of the Suwanee Valley Daylily Society in Lake City, FL., and AHS Region 12. In 1991, they became lifetime members of AHS. In June, 1995, after their retirement as educators, they moved home to Mississippi. They promptly joined the Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society, and have continued to work tirelessly for AHS on the national, regional, and local levels. For well over 25 years, Barbara and Earl have been dedicated to the mission of AHS, particularly promoting public interest in daylilies, and educating the public about daylilies.

Listed below is a list of their contributions on the national, regional, and local levels:


Barbara served on the AHS Board of Directors 2002-2007, during which time she served as Chair of the Publications Committee. They served as active exhibition judges for many years. As a result of a stroke, Earl does not judge now.

Barbara and Earl attended every AHS Convention from 1992-2010. Barbara attended the 2011 convention. Health reasons prevented attendance in 2012 & 13. Both attended the 2014 convention.

Both Barbara and Earl actively encourage Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society members to join their national organization, the AHS. They donate a new plant at each HADS meeting for a drawing by AHS members. New AHS members receive a daylily with a value of at least $100 from the Watts garden.


Earl served as AHS Region 14 Regional Vice President, 1997-2000. During that time he did not take travel expenses in order to help build the regional treasury. A member of the region donated all of his daylilies to the region for auctions if Earl would grow the plants. At the end of his tenure Region 14 was in the black and had a CD of reserve funds.

Because of this financial stability of the region, the Dixie Daylily was changed from a black and white newsletter to a color publication. During his tenure Earl visited every club in Region 14, and helped organize 6 new clubs.

Barbara served as AHS Region 14 Regional Publicity Director, 1996-2000, and received the AHS Region 14 Service Award in 2010. Earl received the AHS Region 14 Service Award in 2002. Barbara and Earl have served the AHS Region 14 in many capacities in the area of garden judges and instructors. They worked for many years as AHS Region 14 Garden Judge liaisons & instructors. They have worked together in this position for a number of years, having judged daylily shows all over Region 14, as well as judging in Region 12 and Region 10

Earl and Barbara's Suburban Daylilies has been a Display Garden for many years. The garden has been featured in numerous publications including the AHS publication, Landscaping with Daylilies.

Earl, has chaired at least four spring meetings in Hattiesburg, including the 50th anniversary of Region 14 in 2007. Fall regional meetings are frequently held in Hattiesburg and Earl usually serves as the chair of the planning committee.

Barbara has contributed numerous articles to the Region 14 newsletter, The Dixie Daylily. Her contributions include "The History of Region 14" celebrating the 50th anniversary of Region 14.

Local – Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society (HADS)

Earl & Barbara joined HADS when they moved to Hattiesburg and both have served more than one term as President and helped build the club membership to the largest in Region 14

In 1996 they convinced a reluctant HADS to present a daylily show. Following the first show, the club voted to make the daylily show an annual event. The just completed 2015 show was the 20th annual.

Barbara has chaired or co-chaired nearly all of the 20 AHS accredited annual shows held by HADS. Under her leadership the HADS show has consistently been the largest or one of the largest shows in AHS. The shows include plant sales, education table; seminars on growing & hybridizing daylilies and a design division. In 2013 Barbara arranged for a simultaneous show to be held by the Mississippi Garden Clubs. The garden clubs requested they have their 2014 show in conjunction with the HADS Daylily Show.

The Watts were instrumental in having the daylily named as the official flower of the City of Hattiesburg in September, 2008.

It is impossible to count the number of daylily plants donated by Earl and Barbara to AHS Region 14 auctions, HADS auctions, Hattiesburg display beds, new members, Master Gardeners, and the like. They are very generous with their plants, wanting everyone to love daylilies as much as they do.

Daylily presentations by Earl and Barbara are legendary. They have both made presentations about growing and hybridizing at Mid-Winter Symposiums, Central Louisiana, local clubs throughout Region 14, and others in Regions 5, 12 & 13, Master Gardener groups, garden clubs, and civic clubs. Because of a hearing loss, Earl does not present to groups, but Barbara continues to schedule talks.

"Waiting for a Cure "is a local foundation that supports women who have breast cancer. In 2007, the director of the foundation selected a "Suburban" seedling to be named Suburban Ribbon of Hope. The daylily was registered in 2008 and all proceeds from the sale of this plant go to "Waiting for a Cure."

In 2011 they received a "Shining Star" Tourism Award given by the Hattiesburg Area Tourism Partners, a group that recognizes tourism's economic value.

For additional information about the Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society visit: Information about the American Hemerocallis Society is available at