Minnesota's Lily Hybridizers
Merv Eisel
Fort McCoy, Minnesota
Merv Eisel
University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's first lily bed

In 1967, Merv Eisel, who was an Assistant Extension Horticulturist, had a strong feeling that there might be enough interest in Minnesota to form a state lily society. Merv authored a questionnaire that garnered enough of a response to set up the inaugural meeting at the summer home of Dr. Leon Snyder, first director of the MN Arboretum, that launched the North Star Lily Society on October, 8, 1967. Merv was a charter member and offered active support as the first treasurer along with serving on many committees for the new NSLS. At lily shows not only did he enter lily stems, he also placed arrangements in the artistic section. Merv wore a lot of hats! He helped with the establishment of NSLS supported lily beds at the Arboretum. He was good friends with many of the original members, among them, Louise Koehler. Merv had lilies planted in several areas around the Arboretum grounds. He helped Louise by making room for her lilies. The little lot she had in Owatonna couldn't hold everything. He offered advice and support to fledgling and experienced lily growers and hybridizers.

Merv did the paperwork and registered 'Earl of Rochester' for Earl Tesca at the request of Earl's wife, Ella. Earl had grown it from seed that he received from Stone and Paine. He also registered his own hybrid lily: L. 'Cameo Glow.'

Lilies weren't Merv's only interest. Among other projects while working at the Arboretum, he did a lot of work with the American Hosta Society to set up hosta identification and registry. For awhile, the Minnesota Arboretum housed the international registrar's office that recorded the world-wide registration of all hosta cultivars. He was also responsible for presenting talks and writing articles in connection with the U of M Extension Service.

When Merv retired, he bought property south of Brainerd. He also bought an old library and turned it into an antique shop.