History of The Lily Pad- Meet the Family
You could say that gardening is in our blood. The Lily Pad is currently owned and operated by twin sisters Abigail and Gabrielle; but years before they were even born, the business began its operation in 1985. Jan Detwiler, matriarch and founder of The Lily Pad, began selling her cut flower bouquets at Seattle's world-renowned Pike’s Place Market, one of the oldest continuous farmer’s markets in the country. Jan used to take her two eldest children with her on her business expeditions to Pike's Place. While Jan pursued her business ventures, her children would explore the market, and today they have fond memories of doing homework and sleeping in what they termed "dens" under the market tables. Since it's inception, The Lily Pad has been a family affair!
Jan continued attending the Seattle market for several years, while she also pursued other avenues of growth, such as the distinguished Northwest Flower and Garden show in Seattle. She has been attending this second largest garden show in the country ever since it first began in 1989, despite having three more children during this time.
Once the current owners, Gabrielle and Abigail, were born in 1990, Jan had begun growing her own flowers (lilies, peonies, iris, alstroemeria, daylilies, and many more) on a farm property on which her three youngest children would spend a good amount of their childhood. During the summers Jan attended the Olympia farmer’s market to sell her home-grown flower bouquets, again often bringing her two eldest children along for the ride, and even teaching her eldest daughter the ropes to creating one of her beautiful bouquets. This daughter continues to have a flare for flower arranging and, being in southern California, often sends us photos of her interesting and different flower combos! Jan’s son made friends with many of the other farmer’s market vendors, and learned a great deal about cultivating the plants we sell. He continues to work with The Lily Pad, and has attended nearly all of the Seattle home and garden shows since 1989. His face is a recognizable one there!
Jan’s three youngest daughters have memories from a very young age of spending hours playing on the farm while their parents worked. When they got older, they spent many summers and weekends helping their mother cut and bucket lilies and other flowers to bring to the farmer's market. While accompanying Jan to the farmer's market and Seattle home and garden show, Jan's daughters learned everything their mother could teach them about making flower arrangements and bouquets, growing and caring for the plants, and moreover how to connect with their community and customer base.
Jan began to sell perennial bare roots and lily bulbs that she grew on the farm, becoming one of the few domestic growers of many varieties of lily bulbs. As the years went by, Jan began to transition out of cut flowers, and focus exclusively on bare roots and bulbs that she grew herself.
Unfortunately, the contract to which Jan leased the land for her flowers was terminated when the property owner decided to develop the land. After years of hard work and dedication to cultivating this piece of land, Jan and her family spent that fall digging up all her bare roots and bulbs. These became the rootstock for future grows. The Lily Pad was able to work with other local growers of bare roots and bulbs to contract grow their rootstock for purchase each year. This arrangement has continued since, with the goal of eventually cultivating their own plants once again.
When Jan decided it was time to retire from The Lily Pad in 2018, her youngest daughters, Abigail and Gabrielle, for obvious reasons wished to continue on with the business legacy, and turn it into what it is today. Abigail and Gabrielle remain committed to the same standard of excellence when it comes to bulb quality, knowledge and expertise, and customer service and satisfaction. At the same time, their youth and spirit brings new life and modernity to their family business.
The passing of the business into their hands will look more or less the same in it's trade. We want to continue to serve our customers and provide them with the best bulbs and bare roots we have, but we also hope to modernize the business, make it our own, adding some new and exiting things, and even begin cultivating our plants again, with the latter being a more gradual transition. We hope The Lily Pad will continue to thrive under our ownership, and we can't thank our customers enough for helping our family get there!