Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Daffodils. Again.

Our main daffodil field is bursting with yellow flowers. Today was the prettiest day yet for them. I snapped the picture above on Sunday, but they've progressed even more in just the past couple of days. Too bad my photography skills haven't progressed.

Yes, I see the blurred one in front. I also see the edge of one of the Chesapeake Bay Children's arms in the upper right corner. I know. I know.

And now the conclusion of my grandmother's 1970-something speech on daffodils that she gave to a convention in Richmond:

"...Almost any variety of daffodil can be planted in this area, with expectation of a good return. This Mid-Atlantic Region is the second largest commercial bulb growing area of the country. The Pacific Northwest, comprising the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California, has the cool, moist climate and good, deep soil that daffodils love and more are grown there for commercial distribution than anywhere else in the country.

These are just a few random facts and thoughts which I have put together. Now Mr. Luther S. will give you a picture of the early history of how daffodils began to be grown
commercially in Gloucester and Mathews Counties. I present to you, Mr. Luther S."

Great. Way to leave us hanging high and dry. There is no transcript of Mr. Luther's speech.

So exactly how did the commercial daffodil business get started in Mathews and Gloucester? Who decided it was the perfect place to grow them (because it is)? How did so many people jump on the band wagon? Why did so many people jump off the band wagon? (Today there are a fraction of the commercial growers there used to be.)

When I was young my grandfather, who had over 13 acres in bloom at one time, would take me over to Mr. Luther's house to talk daffodils. I always chased butterflies or stared up at the cloud formations or wondered why mosquitoes or sisters were invented and never paid any attention to what they were talking about. I wish I had.

In the '60's and '70's daffodil growers were rampant around these parts. In 1967 there were over 15 separate daffodil growers in Mathews County alone, farming over 400 acres in aggregate. A friend pointed out to me that certain students were let out of school early to pick flowers for the commercial growers.

No doubt there are plenty of people out there who might know the origins of daffodil farming in Mathews and Gloucester. OK, there are probably two or three people who know. One? Of all people I ought to know given how close I was to an operation. Chances are I did know at one time, but I gave up hope on resurrecting any functioning memory cells a long time ago. It's a silly exercise in futility. An exercise in silly futility.

If anyone is interested in more facts and figures on daffodils farms in Mathews and Gloucester in the year 1967, let me know. Fortunately my grandfather kept copious records with the names of every farmer, their location, the acreage and how many boxes of blooms and bushels of Something they produced. (His writing is illegible so for now it's bushels of Something.)

This exercise in futility called a blog bushel of Something is now over. Thanks for napping here, please fold your blankets and put away your pillows on your way out.


Grandma J said...

After all is said and done, what roll do bees play in this daffodil extravaganza? Are they abundant? What about the pollen in the air? Do they wreak havoc on allergy prone people?

I know some flowers in large quantities attract bees more than others.
In CA the wild poppies don't bother me, but when I would visit friends that were commercial growers of roses, bees were noticable, and of course the aroma was wonderful.
I have to get ready for April fools day.

Mental P Mama said...

I am going to add daffodil expert to my resume now. Thanks.

Annie said... that very far away? I think that is where my daughter and son in law have been invited to a wedding next month...and want me to come with them to look after the baby !
Baby and I are getting to know one another again...what fun. I especially love the bit where we go walking outside (to look at the daffodils) and he falls asleep in the pram...!
Then I get to fall asleep too (well, when we get back home) to catch up on the jetlag (still). These 4am starts are killing me!

Yes, I wondered once before why the daffodil growers went out of business. I reckon it was when the land was being developed for other things such as smaller allotments for people to live on? Not that I would have a clue!

Daryl said...

I love daffs ... and learning about them is cool.

So I thought Ditchley was sort of neat ... of course it was a swamp of a front lawn due to the incessant rain on Friday/Saturday .. wedding was supposed to be on the dock and dining outdoors after ... I am thinking it was good it was indoors regardless of rain/shine ...

I will tell you that the gal at the front desk at the Comfort Inn we stayed at discovered how nasty a NYer whose been driving thru rain for 7 hrs can be ... I promise to both help MPM navigate and avoid speed traps AND show up and not be snarky after 7 hrs in a car ...

foolery said...

I'm surprised about the daffodils of Northern California. I have never seen any commercial growers here (but it IS a large state). Most surprising is the idea that we have a "cool, moist climate," because we do NOT, except along the coast, where they definitely do. Guessing that our crazy land values along the coast killed off commercial flower farmers long ago.

That's all for now from Hotter And Drier And Boring-er Than Hell, California!

-- Bushels of Laurie

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - I haven't seen a good bee around here (besides carpenter bees, which have infested the dock and boathouse and deck) in years and years. We used to have a lot of honeybees, no more. The shorter answer is I don't know what part they play, if any.

MPM - Your resume is growing and I am proud to help you expand your skill set. If you need help preparing your resume, let me know. In another life I did that routinely.

Annie - RICHMOND IS ONLY AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES AWAY. You'll be right around the corner. Baby Sis is in the vicinity as well....

Daryl - I confess I am not entirely certain where Ditchley is (Northumberland? north of Kilmarnock?) but I'm sure it was a nice location. Just glad you have some experience around these parts, but whatever you do (as you well know), don't go above sixty on Route 17.

Bushels of Laurie - I thought it was odd to mention California too, but what do I know. Wonder if they grow violas there....then a person could say Voila! A viola. Or even Viola! A voila. Or Viola! a viola.

Foolery gets my warped sense of humor, so I'll stop now to avoid scaring off the remaining reader I have who isn't warped. Not that Fooolery is warped, but she seems to understand warped. Are you counting how many times I've said warped in one breath? How about voila?

Happy Wednesday.

Big Hair Envy said...

I believe that you and I could successfully run a commercial daffodil business. I have 77 acres of land just SCREAMING to be cultivated........