April 8, 2012

Hills of Daffodils

In early April we visited a private farm in Northfield Connecticut where there were daffodils.  A lot of them.  There were many green clumps still waiting to bloom, but oh my, what had opened was delightful, even on a chilly day.

I felt as if they were mine.  All mine.
 
Stately maples, just budding out, keep stern watch over the emerging narcissi.

 Some daffodils feel safer on an island in the pond, where visitors can't tromp on them.

 The daffodil troll lives in this cave.

In 1941 Remy and Virginia Morosani planted 10,000 daffodil bulbs on a rocky slope across the road from their farmhouse at Laurel Ridge Farm in northwest Connecticut.

It was too steep to cultivate, but in the wild stony pasture that sloped down to a pond with an island in it, they began planting and dividing and tending two acres of daffodils, and kept at it each year from the 1940s until the 1960s.


The daffodils spread, the Morosanis kept digging and adding more, and eventually there were 15 acres covering the hills in every variety of narcissus.  People began to drive from afar every April to see the show.


Remy and Virginia's descendants eventually formed a foundation to preserve the daffodil fields, but it is still a private farm.  In April visitors are welcome to wander all over and admire the sunny daffodils, but it is not a park.  There are no facilities, no entrance, no picnic areas, not even any parking. 

You can stop on the road and you can get out of your car and walk around, and the feeling that you are in a pristine, unspoiled place is striking.  It looks like a farm.  It is a farm.  But the bulbs have exploded all over the hillside and wandered far from any planned planting.

Narcissus is such a stiff looking clump of a plant, even when you try to naturalize them in masses.  But here, over decades, they have gone awry in a delightfully random way, with clumps and bare spots and tufts and escapees going every which way.

Virginia lived to be 93.  She died at home, in the house right across the road from the daffodil hills, just eight years ago. 

 

32 comments:

  1. What a fabulous and delightful legacy. That is a sight I would love to see in person. This particular tropical gardener would be dumbstruck, I'm sure!

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    1. Bernie, leave your beautiful dry tropics and come up here in April and you will see daffodils everywhere, not just this farmer's legacy, but everywhere!

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  2. what a joy that must have given the owner over many years. And to everyone who passes by looks like a nice piece of earth. i like Bernie H live in the tropics in my case Thailand ,but i love daffodils and in Tasmania where i originate from we had plenty.

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    1. Steve, welcome --- I take it daffodils don't grow for you in Thailand, but how great that you had them growing up!

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  3. Now that's how I love to see daffodils; if you're going to do them, do 'em biiiig. What a show. Great idea, the island. And, your delightful pose conveys the joy of being amid the art of it all.

    I'd plant a field of daffodils if I thought I could grow them past the deer. I know they're supposed to be deer resistant, but deer can't read.

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    1. Lee, Daffodils are unpalatable to deer -- unless they like them! Joene has photos of nibbled nubs of daffodil foliage after the deer have been through her garden. So much for common wisdom on that.

      I agree with you, daffodils must be done in huge plantings, that's the only way.

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  4. What a beautiful spot on the planet. No wonder people are drawn to this place. It is an inspiration to those that have such an area. It makes my heart sing just seeing this display of love and hope.

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    1. Lisa, The sight is inspirational in all its blooming beauty, and so is the thought of those two farmers planting and replanting endlessly over twenty five years. Wow.

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  5. What a wonderful story and beautiful setting! I'd love to plant a mass of daffodils like that eventually. Maybe some rogue, guerrilla planting along the edge of the adjoining golf course here, I doubt they'd mind too much! ;)

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    1. Julie, how do you keep yourself from guerrilla planting all over the golf course that is right in your back yard? I would be stuffing things in and hoping the groundskeeper didn't notice! How nice that you have a golf course edging your own garden.

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  6. What a stunning view looking down that hill of yellow blooms to the river.

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    1. Marguerite, thanks! I want to go back when more are open. As stunning as it was, not all the blooms were out yet.

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  7. Beautiful! I always love to see mass plantings of spring bulbs like this. There is a location similar to this along Rt 6A here on the Cape. Truly awesome!

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    1. Forest Keeper, Daffodils truly need to be planted in giant huge swaths out on sunny hillsides! The occasional clump in the border does nothing.

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  8. What a wonderful place! I love that their family preserved it instead of mowing it over or selling to developers. I would have stopped there, too. :o)

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    1. Tammy, The land is worth a lot in the area of northwest CT where this farm is. They could have gotten a lot for development. So glad it has been left intact.

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  9. Now that is an inspiration!! I would love to leave a legacy like that one day, all I need is 10,000 bulbs, 20 years and 15 sunny acres. Myabe I will try with snowdrops instead, they like shade, and hopefully they will like my 3/4 of an acre. (And I am hoping I have 20 more years!)

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    1. Deborah, you will surely have 20+ more years to expand your snowdrop fields. Gardening keeps you young and fit!

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  10. What a great place! there is nothing like a mass of daffodils in the spring.Tower Hill Botanical Garden near(ish) to us has a glorious daffodil field. That golden island is really wonderful.

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    1. Commonweeder, I love Tower Hill, it's one of my favorite botanical gardens, but I have only been there in summer and fall. I need to get up there at this time of year to see the daffodils!

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  11. I agree with Deborah, this is an amazing and inspiring legacy. I find myself increasingly attracted to gardens that don't have flowerbeds imposed on a landscape. On this farm, the flowers are truly part of the landscape.

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    1. Jennifer, you hit a chord with me --- I too am drawn to gardens that are all part of a unified landscape. I get frustrated with my own half acre of lawn dotted with flowerbeds and surrounded by mixed borders, and I'm struggling with designing something more whole.

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  12. What a beautiful place. I think you and Jennifer have hit upon what is so often ignored in garden and landscape design, making the garden part of the surrounding landscape.

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    1. Sweetbay, that is truly a challenge on a suburban lot in a development -- how to make it part of some kind of natural surrounding landscape. I long for the woods and pastures you have around you!

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  13. Oh how beautiful! I would definitely make the drive to see this if I lived anywhere nearby. I can't help but think of one of my favorite poems by Wordsworth--I'd love to see the "daffodils dancing."

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    1. There is a little stone plaque that the Laurel Ridge foundation put in the ground at the top of the hill here with Wordsworth's poem on it. It's perfect.

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  14. I'm so glad you shared this story. It just makes my heart happy to see expanses of flowers allowed to grow at will! What a wonderful experience to stand among them! My aunt and I drove around central Texas a couple weeks ago to shoot wildflowers and I was astounded by the huge fields filled with wildflowers. It's a humbling and moving experience. Thanks, Laurrie!

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    1. Cat, We imitate nature in our gardens, with "masses" here and there of a particular plant, but nature does it so much better and on a far greater scale than we ever could.

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  15. What a beautiful post. I can feel the presence of the daffodil planters through your words.

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    1. Thanks, Joene. I like to picture the farmers in 1941, and try to conjure up their presence while I wander around in their legacy.

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  16. What a special place. You look wonderful surrounded by daffs!

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock - thanks. I think I could live there!!

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