January 29, 2013

Feature obituary: Corinne Mann, 97, renowned Maine gardener

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

KITTERY – Corinne Mann, a highly acclaimed horticulturist and landscape artist once described as the "Daylily lady of Kittery Point," has died at age 97.

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Corinne Mann

Family photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways

Mrs. Mann dedicated much of the past six decades to sharing her knowledge of horticulture with others. She led numerous garden clubs across the state and oversaw dozens of local and regional landscaping projects.

She also was one of the state's leading authorities on the cultivation of daylilies, at one time growing more than 100 varieties in the gardens of her Kittery Point home.

Mrs. Mann was a loving wife of Daniel "Rich" Mann. The couple lived on Pepperell Road in Kittery for many years. They did not have children.

In her early years, Mrs. Mann served three stints as president of the Kittery Garden Club, now known as the Harbourside Garden Club. She also was a longtime member of the Garden Club Federation of Maine, serving as president from 1961 to 1963.

Mrs. Mann was active on the state level, too. She was a charter member of former Gov. John H. Reed's Keep Maine Scenic Committee, working closely with legislators who drafted the proposal to eliminate billboard advertising along the Maine Turnpike.

Mrs. Mann chaired another committee that resulted in the planting of flowering crab trees throughout Kittery. Her efforts were recognized with a national award.

Through the years, Mrs. Mann was the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles touting her knowledge and vast experience in gardening and horticulture. DownEast Magazine once called her the "Daylily lady of Kittery Point."

She was immersed in "her gardens, plants and horticulture," said her niece, Deborah Richio of Cape Elizabeth.

Gardening came naturally to her. In an excerpt from the book "The Grand Masters of Maine Gardening: And Some of Their Disciples," Mrs. Mann credits her father for instilling that passion in her.

She grew up in Raymond, where her parents operated Leavitt's Homemade Ice Cream. She worked alongside her parents at the popular destination for locals and tourists. At home, her father nurtured a vegetable and flower garden.

"My father loved gardening -- vegetables and flowers," Mrs. Mann said in the interview. "He'd often come into the house with some new flower in his hand to show us. In spring, I was always out before the snow was off the ground, hunting wildflowers."

Mrs. Mann's love of wildflowers was a constant throughout her life. A vast assortment of native plants bordered the marsh behind her home in Kittery, including her daylily collection.

"Pinks, golds, creams, delicate apricots and vibrant orange, with here and there a splash of crimson," is how author Jane Lamb described it in her book.

Mrs. Mann's daylilies expertise qualified her to become a senior judge of the American Hemerocallis Society.

Through the years, she shared her love of gardening with people across the state. She taught numerous workshops and lectured extensively on the topic.

Mrs. Mann was the founder of the Kittery Art Association and authored a book, "Mosses: The Flowerless Ones."

For several decades, she studied Ikenobo and Ikebana -- Japanese flower arrangement. Her passion led her to Japan to study, where she earned her certification as instructor. She continued to attend Ikebana classes through last year's season.

"It was important for her to teach and share her knowledge with others," her niece said. "She was certainly very humble. I don't think she realized how much other people thought of her, and the impact she had on their lives."

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

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