Scotland’s Daffodil Festival 2019


Naturalised Backhouse Daffodils on the lawn at the front of the House on the Rossie Estate

Now in its third year Scotland’s Daffodil Festival has become an established spring event destination bringing much happiness through the power of flowers to hundreds of people. Visitor numbers were up by 30% and the support of Stephen Gethins NE Fife MP who launched the event was much appreciated as were the Daffodil Groups and Societies, talented journalists, photographers, press and Radio who let everyone know about a National Festival about daffodils, spring flowers and their benefits.
George Anderson MBE and TV gardening personality presented brass plaques to both –
David Willis whose ongoing support of The National Collection of Narcissus Backhouse cultivars was gratefully acknowledged and significant contribution to the success and scope of the multi-faceted conservation and research project acknowledged.
Dr David Willis International authority on genus Narcissus, author of Yellow Fever, senior lecturer in horticulture, creator of Q4, discoverer of new plants including Euphorbia ‘Silver Swan’ best new plant introduction in 2001 at The Plantarium in Holland.
Mr Jan Dalton; The Backhouse Heritage and Education Centre gratefully acknowledged the ongoing support and significant contribution to the success, vision and scope of the Library and Archive project by

Mr Jan Dalton Daffodil Exhibitor, Hybridizer, Researcher, Archivist, Honorary Life Member and former Chairman of The Daffodil Society the Library and Archive were honoured to be the recipients of ‘The Jan Dalton Collection of Books’

In the show area power point talks took place every half hour from midday onwards covering a range of topics from Scottish plant hunters, daffodil history and identification, foraging wild food to tips and clues on re-developing a rundown garden.

Daffodils arrived from one end of the British Isles to the other Ron and Adrian Scamp of Quality Daffodils in Cornwall sent flowers from some of the daffodil varieties on their gold medal award winning stand at the RHS Cardiff Spring Show, visitors were wowed by the great variation in form and colour of the different varieties on display and were noticed and assisted in carefully copying down the daffodil names to place orders to flower in their own gardens next spring. “A big thank you to The Scamp Family at Quality Daffodils Nr. Falmouth in Cornwall for their kind support and fantastic daffodil flowers, arranged for display with skill and experience by Mr Jan Dalton”

Jan Dalton brought examples of the fragile wild Narcissus species and his own exquisite hybrids from North Yorkshire receiving much interest in these and for his fascinating stand of paintings, drawings and etchings of Narcissus through the ages in a variety of mediums.
Grampian Growers Ltd. kindly donated lovely N. Sempre Avanti which decorated the tent and was sold in bunches by the Marie Curie daffodil ladies.

Plant Heritage Grampian and Tayside brought a stall full of interesting plants grown by plant collection holders.
Caulders Garden Centre in Cupar our local market town kindly supplied spring plants in tubs and flowers to decorate the café patio and entrance providing a wonderful splash of spring colour for which we are most grateful.

The Festival Food Market a natural symbiotic accompaniment to daffodils! was much enjoyed. with local artisan food and drink makers; Trotters Independent condiments gather their wild garlic leaves from the daffodil woodland at Backhouse Rossie creating pesto served in the Café pasta dishes. Christopher Trotter Food Ambassador for Fife brought his seasonal vegetable recipe books. Tayport spirits served drink samples with floating flowers, Cairn O’ Mhoir fruit wines sparkled, Lindores Distillery Aqua Vitae comes flavoured with herbs. Screaming Peacocks local venison products are cooked with fruits and berries plus stalls with cheeses and homemade breads. Binny Plants and their peonies were much in demand. Elmwood SRUC College and The Scottish Institute of Horticulture were in attendance.

The second weekend in April is always the festival weekend, each year brings different weather challenges. This year the flowers bloomed early causing us some concern but were held back by the cold weather and the lates came out to join them, the garden has not in my memory been so floriferous in spring providing great opportunities for hybridising!

We are delighted to have completed (at time of printing) the process of registering two new daffodils created from crosses of the original Backhouse cultivars. Look out for N. ‘Backhouse Rossie Estate’ and N. ‘Hamish A B Thomson’ .Hamish’s background is in science, he has an interest in the family daffodils having photographed them for many years as part of the record keeping process and has agreed to take over the care of the collection at Backhouse Rossie in the future.

In the show area a very important cultivar easily passed by without a second thought as to what is hidden within its cell structures, N. ‘Carlton’ was on display with information and interpretation. The alkaloid Galantamine a selective, competitive and reversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterasis is extracted from this daffodil and used for the treatment of cognitive decline in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and various other memory impairments. It is an alkaloid that has been isolated from the bulbs and flowers of Galanthus caucasicus, Galanthus woronowii, and some other members of the family Amaryllidaceae, such as Narcissus, Leucojum aestivum, and Lycoris including Lycoris radiata. because of increased demand as there is not enough plant-derived galanthamine available, so chemical synthesis is increasingly being looked at as an option this doesn’t come without problems and the drug companies are working to find and produce effective solutions.

Our Quaker botanising ancestors created the first tetraploid Narcissus cultivar N. ‘Weardale Perfection’ (4 sets of chromosomes) and two of the first triploid Narcissus cultivars N. ‘Emperor’ and N. ‘Empress’ (3 sets of chromosomes) from which so much has stemmed. Their work continued to produce other ‘firsts’, the first Barrii, the first pink daffodil as it was known N. ‘Mrs RO Backhouse’ and the first division 1 red trumpet N. ‘Brer Fox’ which caused much sensation in their day. The Quaker Garden Trail celebrates Quaker botanists, plant hunters and horticulturalists often unknown contributions over the centuries. Find undiscovered layers, take a step back and breath in the Quaker Garden Trail. For UK gardens see RHS Wisely, Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, NT Glendurgen, Milton’s Cottage. Rockliffe Hall, Swarthmore Hall, Kendall Tapestry Museum, Ackwoth School, Bristol University, NT Peckover House. In Ireland see – Ballymaloe Cookery School, Burtown House, a beautiful property in Italy is about to join along with other applications pending,

Scotland’s Daffodil Festival is working with these fascinating multi layered gardens with Quaker connections to display a collection of spring flowering plants with their interesting and often unique history for visitors to see and enjoy, come along and see the flowers at the Festival in April 2020 and visit the gardens themselves. link below.

The Festival Café is daffodil themed! Featuring this year, the launch of the ‘Backhouse Pantry’ range made from Rossie Estates fruits and berries grown free from chemicals, the heritage apple juice, contains apples from the original scion wood from the family Nursery and from Sir Isaac Newton’s famous apple tree. Our modern understanding of light and colour begins with Isaac Newton (1642-1726) and a series of experiments that he published in 1672. The heritage tree now grown at Backhouse Rossie is underplanted by spring bulbs forming an artist’s colour wheel. The elderflower trees produce berries for the ‘Queens Walk Balsamic’ and are underplanted with Narcissus including N. ‘Ice Follies’ and N. ‘Salome’.

The Café and Plant Sales from the Backhouse Nursery at Rossie and Heritage Centre are free entry, the garden being entered via the kiosk displays interest through the seasons with the National Collection Narcissus Backhouse cultivars and hundreds of heritage, modern and scented daffodils giving way to vibrant tulips, peonies, auricular and cowslips, followed by herbaceous border flowers, vegetables and roses, then autumn flowering bulbs, grass labyrinth and water feature, woodland walk to covenanters hidden tomb with spring bulbs open during the season, infants bear walk scented by daffodils in spring, champion trees either side the family putting lawn

Next year’s dates for “Scotland’s Daffodil Festival 11th – 12th April 2020 see further details on our website nearer the time.
For 2019 current season information for entry to the Café, Heritage Centre and Garden Wed – Sun April to end September at Backhouse Rossie Estate, by Collessie, Ladybank, Fife KY15 7UZ
For further information see
For information on gardens with Quaker connections see


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