Daylily champion Roger Mercer, longtime garden columnist, dies at age 76

Plant expert was among the founders of Cape Fear Botanical Garden


Roger Mercer was a man of many passions: Gardening; writing; newspapers; music; friends; community; and his wife, Maureen.

And then there were daylilies.

Mercer, a longtime garden columnist for The Fayetteville Observer and its predecessor newspapers and the owner of Mercers’ Garden near Hope Mills, died June 15 at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, according to longtime friend Chuck Umstead.

He was 76.

Mercer had been in the cardiac intensive care unit for about three weeks, Umstead said.
Mercer also was a frequent contributor to CityView, writing stories about gardening for the magazine.
Umstead said he took a class on daylilies at Mercers’ Garden and became good friends with Mercer. He lives close to the garden.

“My mom told me that I needed to go see Roger Mercer when I moved here,” said Umstead, who has lived in the Fayetteville area about 18 years.

“We became closer friends when I found out he played the saxophone,” said Umstead, who is also a musician.
He recalls Mercer telling him about the times he played in “smokey bars” at age 15 — “back in the day when you could get away with that kind of thing.”

“He was extremely easygoing and friendly,” Umstead said. “He was a Renaissance man. He knew a lot of cutting-edge things about — things.”

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