Waipā daffodil growers Clive Denton and Robin Hill were thrilled to be back ‘home’ at the weekend in the Cambridge Town Hall to show off their prize-winning flowers.
The last time they were in the hall was in 2007 – after a nearly 40-year absence – to celebrate the centenary of the first daffodil show in Cambridge.
Since then, they have shown off their blooms in the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion.
Clive is from Cambridge and recently published One Hundred Years of Cambridge Daffodil Shows in time for the two-day North Island daffodil show on the weekend.
Robin grows daffodil bulbs at his Fisher Nurseries base on Cambridge Road near Te Awamutu and many of his progeny were among the winners on display.
The champion bloom was grown in Te Kuiti by Lisa Watkins. The award came as a big surprise to her as she recently moved into town from her Piopio farm and was not sure what the new soil was going to produce.
The new clay soil, record rainfall and several recent frosts had her doubting whether she would produce a finalist, yet alone a winner.
But her Omeomy flower impressed the judges. And the secret?
“It got a lot of fertiliser,” said Lisa who also pointed to the smoothness of the petal, the symmetry, colour, condition and cup as reasons for its victory.
The show attracted 45 exhibitors with 1200 blooms. While the event is one of the country’s major shows, few came from the South Island because weather conditions had delayed the daffodil season.
“We’re lucky it’s been a very slow season because I don’t think we would have got everyone in the Town Hall,” said Clive.
A return to the Hamilton Pavilion is on the cards once it has been refurbished, he said.
In his book Clive delves into the role Cambridge mayor Frank Buckland played in setting up the first daffodil shows.
A champion daffodil grower himself, he wrote the schedule for the first show in 1907, entered numerous prize winning flowers and provided daffodil bulbs to further promote the growing of daffodils.
Having the new Town Hall in 1909 to display daffodils brought credibility to the Cambridge event and resulted in the establishment of the Cambridge Daffodil Society in 1912.
The society ran its shows every year in the Town Hall until 1968.
The Wellington Horticultural Society is credited in 1898 with holding the first show dedicated solely to daffodils.
The National Daffodil Society was formed in 1926.
Daffodils have been around for centuries and traditionally herald the start of spring in both hemispheres.
Their botanical name is narcissus, named after the youth in Greek mythology who was tricked into falling in love with his own reflection.