Dean and Marsha Hartle inherited their interest in growing lilies from Dean's father, Herb. Herb's sudden death in 1980 left Dean and Marsha with some choices to make about the lily business he had started. They could plow under the lily fields, continue Herb's passion, or sell the lilies. That year, they attended a lily show in Rochester and fell in love with one lily in particular. Julius Wadekamper was showing the lily 'Maple Cream.' Julius invited the Hartles to Borbeleta Gardens at the time in Faribault, Minnesota, to see his fields of lilies. Seeing rows of L. 'Maple Cream' was all they needed to make that decision to stay in the business of selling lilies. They were hooked!
Dr. Robert (Doc) Gilman began his involvement with flowers by growing iris. He became interested in growing lilies in 1979 because people were stealing his iris. Doc began working with Herb Hartle so he could learn more about the culture and hybridization of lilies.
Doc, Dean and Marsha began Hartle-Gilman Gardens shortly after a 1980 lily show. Dr. Gilman purchased bulbs from Borbeleta Gardens to add to the Hartle collection of bulbs. Hartle-Gilman Gardens has introduced a number of lilies for other hybridizers under the name of Hartle-Gilman. Between 1988 and 2000 they registered 35 hybrid lilies with the Royal Horticultural Society. Some of the more famous ones are L. 'Timepiece,' 'Queen's Fancy,' 'Forty Winks' and 'Red Silk.' Many Hartle-Gilman lilies were offered over the years at the NSLS bulb sales.
Along with their active participation in the North Star Lily Society, Bob and Marsha and Dean were active members of the North American Lily Society. Bob was their Executive Secretary for many years. Both he and Marsha were accredited judges for the North American and North Star Lily Societies. Their attendance at both the national and local lily shows was a given, as both Marsha and Bob enjoyed entering stems and competing for the top honors.
Marsha Hartle retired from gardening when illness made it impossible for Marsha to continue her hybridizing work. Dr. Gilman passed away in 2012. Dean Hartle continues to be actively involved in the Hartle-Gilman business along with John and Barbara Sautner.
Marsha Hartle's thoughts:
"We started Hartle-Gilman Gardens in 1980 after the death of Dean's father, Herb Hartle. Dr. Robert Gilman had been talking with Herb about helping and growing some lilies at the farm, so he knew more about the lily garden than we did. Dr. Gilman and I have both done some lily hybridizing. When Richard Prochaska wanted to move on to hybridizing hemerocallis and hosta, he sent his lily bulbs to us to grow and decide which would be best for introduction. Two seedlings that Prochaska named are L. 'Iowa Rose' and L. 'Nova Praha.'
L. 'Winter Ballet,' 'Marsha,' 'Celestial Snow,' and 'Celebrity Time,' are the names of just a few of the cultivars that are Hartle-Gilman Garden's introductions."
A few words from Hugh Cocker:
"Hartle-Gilman Gardens was a big influence on lily growing in these parts. They have saved a number of Minnesota lilies by acquiring the collections of growers who had passed away. By having a mail order business and being willing to market the lilies of other Minnesota hybridizers through their catalog, they helped make our lilies known far and wide. Dr. Gilman had also become interested in martagon lilies and built a large collection of them."