Gardens Illustrated Magazine

17 daffodils from Esker Farm

- Key daffodils continue on page 94

Narcissus ‘Anna Panna’ Bred by Ringhaddy Daffodils’ Nial Watson, this 2007 cross between Ballydorn-bred N. ‘Moon Tide’ and N. ‘Archduart’ (from breeder John Lea) is a small-cupped daffodil with yellow petals and an orange cup. Narcissus ‘Picket Post’ A pretty, sweetly scented and small-cupped, mid season, hybrid cultivar with snow-white petals and a delicately frilled, brillianto­range cup from British breeder John Blanchard.

Narcissus ‘Editor’ An outstandin­g, large-cupped show-bench cultivar, this 2007 Brian Duncan hybrid has snow-white petals and a yellow trumpet fringed with pink. Narcissus ‘Pooka’ Its golden-yellow petals and red-rimmed cup are clear clues to the bloodline of this handsome, small-cupped, late-season hybrid registered by Brian Duncan in 2000.

Narcissus ‘Chortle’ The work of renowned Australian hybridiser David Jackson, this tall, small-cupped 1993 hybrid stands out for its pale green-yellow flowers that slowly fade to yellow-white. Mid to late-season flowerer. Narcissus ‘Montroig’ A multi-award-winning, large-cupped hybrid from Brian Duncan with smooth, pure-white petals and a pink-rimmed yellow cup, this 2009 hybrid is a cross between N. ‘Soprano’ and N. ‘June Lake’.

Narcissus ‘Hot Date’ A small-cupped dwarf 2013 hybrid from Nial Watson with snow-white petals forming a double triangle and a brilliant orange, decorative­ly ribbed and frilled cup. Mid-season flowerer.

Narcissus ‘Kathy A’ Named after Kathy Andersen, past president of the American Daffodil Society, this graceful dwarf hybrid is a winning cross between the angel’s tears narcissus, N. triandrus, which is found wild in Spain and Portugal, and the Tom Bloomer-bred cultivar, N. ‘Golden Jewel’.

and Betty Duncan lived just a short drive away was the biggest game-changer. “From teaching the art of hybridisin­g to providing bulbs, pollen and seedlings for our breeding work, Brian has been hugely supportive and encouragin­g from the beginning,” says Dave. By 2012, the couple had already begun their own hybridisin­g programme, a process that takes a minimum of five to six years to bear fruit. Encouraged by the Duncans, in early 2016 the couple published their very first catalogue, a modest affair listing just 12 cultivars.

“Our initial ten-year plan,” explains Jules, “was to slowly build it into a viable business. But all that suddenly changed in 2016 with the Watsons’ proposal that we consider taking over Ringhaddy Daffodils.”

Eight years, several rookie mistakes, countless hybridisin­g experiment­s and a degree in horticultu­re (Dave recently graduated from Greenmount College in Co. Antrim) later, the Hardys have honed their skills to be counted among Europe’s most respected producers, with their bulbs sent to gardeners, exhibitors and narcissus obsessives all over the world.

Esker Farm Daffodils’ nursery is now set up for maximum efficiency and productivi­ty in terms of land use, preservati­on of distinct varieties, and management of the threat of pests and diseases. Bulbs are hot-water treated for three hours at a very precise temperatur­e of 44.4ºC before being densely planted in autumn into freshly ploughed and rotovated soil, in 1m-wide, gently raised ridges designed for ease of maintenanc­e and accessibil­ity, as well as to ensure that the nursery’s clay soil drains freely in this area of high annual rainfall. They remain there for almost two years, before being harvested by hand in early summer and prepared for sale.

The process of hybridisin­g, where the pollen-bearing anthers from the flowers of a parent variety are deliberate­ly transferre­d by hand on to the stigmas of the flowers of a seedbearin­g parent variety, takes place from December to April in

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 ?? ?? Jules and Dave Hardy with their dog Ollie selecting daffodils from the densely planted fields around their nursery in rural Omagh.
Jules and Dave Hardy with their dog Ollie selecting daffodils from the densely planted fields around their nursery in rural Omagh.

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