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create a microclimate perfect for growing plants, and during the 20th century, after the mines had closed, it became famous for strawberries, cherries and flowers, in particular a for new kind of ‘gold’ – daffodils.


Memories and pictures of the great growing years can be found in two books which are treasures in themselves, Sovereigns, Madams and Double Whites (Giffords and Lewis, published in 2004) and Silver River (Spiers and Martin, published in 2010). Modern life and modern transport costs have decimated the plant trades, but the daffodils have left a ghostly


Narcissus Tamar Double White trail which it’s fascinating to try to follow.


The first Tamar variety I ever grew was a splendid large-cup called ‘Red Devon’, bought because of its name, kept for its good looks and because I discovered that it had been bred in the 1940s at Champernowne’s nurseries at Buckland Monachorum, where I was a customer in the 2000s. Fate was raising my consciousness of Tamar daffodils, and I came across tantalising names, ‘Tamar Lass’, ‘Tamar Fire’, ‘Tamar Double White’, and names from landmarks which I knew such as ‘Kit Hill’ and ‘Spaniard’s Inn’. I began to realise too that bulbs from the former fields are still growing on banks and roadsides, along old hedges.


Gardeners driving cars need to be very self- controlled in April, when flashes of gold show up on dangerous corners! Now that growing Narcissus for the bulb trade has largely replaced their use as cut flowers, and the Tamar flower fields are no more, identifying these plants takes detective powers, but luckily for us nurserymen have kept stocks alive, and new West Country treasures are being launched.


In Falmouth, Ron Scamp and his family run


On the Tamar itself, Mark and Karen Wash run Trecanna bulb nursery (formerly in the actual fields which gave ‘Latchley’ and ‘Latchley Meadows’ their names), and have made many people aware of local cultivars. Delightfully, they are continuing the growing traditions of the valley, producing beautiful new Crocosmia selections, using the ‘Tamar’ prefix in the names – look out for ‘Tamar Glow’ and ‘Tamar New Dawn’!


Country Gardener 37


Quality Daffodils using wonderful inherited skills, growing the bulbs, supporting historic varieties, creating new cultivars, producing an unequalled catalogue of daffodils which includes the Tamar varieties (possibly their only availability now) and many others with haunting West Country names. A Quality Daffodils list is a poem. Names such as ‘Landewednack Lady’, ‘Wheal Kitty’, ‘Mist of Avalon’, ‘Cheesewring’, ‘St Petroc’, ‘Rosemoor Gold’, and ‘Kernow’ must thrill West Country hearts with their evocation of beloved places.


Above: Narcissus Tamar Lad - a hardy variety whose name is one of a number able to be traced back to the Tamar Valley


Left: Narcissus Kit Hill - a very white, scented variety from a hill top at the highest point of the Tamar Valley


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