Minnesota's Lily Hybridizers
Julius Wadekamper
Faribault, Minnesota
Julius Wadekamper
Purple Reign
Julius Wadekamper on Borbeleta Gardens catalog

Lily "Miss Alice"

Read his article, "My Life With Lilies"

Julius Wadekamper started gardening at the age of three. Things started getting serious when his parents gave him his own fenced garden and several lilium regale bulbs at 6. So, you could say that at an early age, Julius was hooked on lilies. After high school, he took his interests on the road and travelled to meet Jan de Graff, an internationally known lily expert. After college, Julius' vocation led him to become a monk and teacher. He spent the next 10 years teaching chemistry in Brazil.

Julius returned to Minnesota in 1965 and in 1966 he started lily gardening again and formed friendships with others interested in hybridizing lilum. In 1967, when Merv Eisel sent invitations to the inaugural planning meeting to launch a new lily club, Julius was there.

When the North Star Lily Society was formed, Julius Wadekamper was one of its biggest advocates. As a charter member, he took great interest and a leadership role in the fledgling organization. He was chairman of or a member of many committees. He entered his lilies in shows, mentored novice lily growers and shared his knowledge. He wrote articles and was a requested speaker. He was not just devoted to the regional NSLS, he was also very active with the international North American Lily Society. Over time, he served each as its president. He set up the official training and education of lily show judges.

Along with all of the time he spent in those endeavors, he also spent a lot of time in his garden developing and introducing more than 70 new Asiatic lilies. Julius' first brush mark lily appeared in his garden in 1974. He made many select crosses to develop many more brush marked lilies. About that time he launched a mail order lily business. He made it his mission to help other lily growers develop and introduce their lilies. He helped register lilies on their hybridizer's behalf. He also helped growers introduce their lilies through his company, Borbeleta Gardens. Minnesota was a hotbed for lily introductions in those days and the NSLS was an internationally respected group.

Julius also travelled globally to share his lilies and acquire more breeding material. He was a speaker and lily judge in 8 countries. He spent a month in Latvia to help develop their lily industry. The bulbs he brought back helped launch a spreckled "Latvian" series of lilies.

In the 1990's Julius sold Borbeleta gardens and moved west to the state of Washington.

The impact Julius Wadekamper had on the world of lilium is immeasurable. NSLS considers itself fortunate to have had such a dedicated man in its midst. And, isn't it amazing that a former monk found his heaven in a lily garden?