Today I’m trying to describe the scent from 341 acres of daffodils- that’s about 300 football pitches. I’m almost lost for words. It’s like a tidal wave of “spring.” That scent at dawn on an April morning. Dew on the flowers, and the sun just starting to shine. Bees buzzing all around. And then it hits you. Pure joy!
I am at Taylors’ bulb fields in Lincolnshire for their Daffodil Day to celebrate the company’s centenary. And what a celebration! Daffodils as far as the eye can see. Birds singing, blue skies and a line of trees in the distance. The trees are so far away they look like miniatures. I’ve never seen anything like it. Bands of gold and yellow daffodils ripple in the wind. And wow, is it windy here. I’m holding on to my hat.
Taylors grow around 500 daffodil varieties on their farm at Holbeach near Spalding. It’s a real treat to learn how they are grown, the machinery used, and the processes involved.
Daffodils are planted in August – 850 tonnes of them. Bulbs remain in the ground for two years and are harvested over a six week period in June and July. The daffodil lifting machine digs up about one tonne per minute. Around 2,000 tonnes are harvested annually.
It’s the same machine that’s used for lifting potatoes. Daffodils are taken by trailer to a sorting conveyor belt machine that separates the bulbs from soil and stones.
Bulbs then go to a grading machine that sorts them into sizes. 7-10cm bulbs are kept to replant. Sizes then are separated into 10-12, 12-14, 14-16. The largest will obviously be the premium bulbs that will cost the most, but provide the best flower display.
Here’s John Cubley explaining the grading process. The bulbs pass through a kind of riddle to separate the sizes. John has worked for Taylors for 25 years. In fact, I spoke to three other workers who’ve all been there for at least 25 years. It’s obviously a company that attracts dedicated and loyal staff.
Here’s the grading machine inside the warehouse. Bulbs travel along a conveyor belt to be stored or packed into individual sizes and varieties.
It’s a treat to see any behind-the-scenes production. I’ve now got a better understanding of just what goes into growing and selling the bulbs I buy and plant each year.
These are some of the varieties I picked out as favourites. I particularly love the scented white daffodils and narcissi.
Kimmeridge. Pure white broad petals with a bowl crown of deep orange red.
Tibet. Creamy white, frilled cup, with a green “eye.”
High Society. Pure white with pink-edged centre. Good strong stems.
Pastorale. Pale lime yellow flower. The corona becomes white.
Tranquil Morn. Very pretty rounded pure white perianth. White flat disk, almost geometrically perfect. My favourite.
Pueblo. A jonquil. Multi -headed lemon flowers that become white as they mature. Simply stunning.
I’m looking out for some of the new varieties for 2019: Worcester- a creamy white variety. Pacific Rim- yellow with an orange rim; Arctic Bells- a white hoop petticoat type; Sinopel- unusual white with a green cup.
I came home laden down with catalogues, packets of summer bulbs, Taylors also sell these, dahlias, lilies, gladioli- and bunches of beautiful cut flowers. I’ve no need to travel to Holland. Lincolnshire – and Taylors Bulbs -is the place to see spring flowers in all their glory. And I’ve found the word I was searching for to describe the scent. It’s heavenly!
Links: Taylors Bulbs also home of Walkers Daffodils : http://www.taylors-bulbs.com/
Walkers Bulbs : https://bulbs.co.uk/