Friday, 2 July 2010

Ringhaddy Daffodils

Every year at about this time, Lynn helps out for two or three days at Ringhaddy Daffodils, on Castle Island peninsula to the northwest of Islandmore. The business is owned by Nial and Hilary Watson (Hilly is my first cousin), and as far as I know is the only daffodil operation of any size in Northern Ireland.

The bulbs go by mail order to growers and collectors from every continent, and the business has won numerous accolades and a worldwide reputation for quality and reliability. It makes me vicariously proud to think that a rare variety of daffodil which heralds springtime in New Zealand, or China, or North Carolina, might have started its journey on the shores of Strangford Lough and been lifted, dusted off and sorted by Lynn's fair hand.

Given the price of some of the rarest varieties (up to £75 per bulb), it's not surprising that that last little detail - the sorting - is critical, if the proud recipient of half a dozen Dream Catchers by post in late summer isn't to be greeted the following spring by the cheerfully nodding heads of half a dozen Sperrin Golds.

I was helping out myself a few years ago, and somehow found myself holding a single bulb, and wondering which of a dozen carefully labelled wooden boxes to drop it into. I turned to Ronnie, an experienced hand, with a questioning look and he said, with a twinkle in his eye and without moving his lips, 'Ut it in your ocket, ut it in your ocket,' and plunged his spade into into the next row.

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