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Global Gathering: Celebrating Ireland's Daffodil Heritage

Horticultural enthusiasts from across the globe have converged on Northern Ireland to revel in the spectacle of its celebrated spring blooms.


Dave Hardy with his daffodils of many colours. Photo: BBC

These aficionados, hailing from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, America, the UK, and Ireland itself, are here for the illustrious World Daffodil Convention, a quadrennial event hosted in various nations.


Ireland boasts a venerable tradition of daffodil cultivation, a legacy that Dave and Jules Hardy are upholding on their farm near Dromore, County Tyrone. "Ireland has long been a bastion of daffodil breeding, with a history spanning two centuries," Mr Hardy remarked.


At Esker Farm, the Hardy duo nurtures over 800 distinct daffodil variants alongside numerous experimental seedlings of their own creation.


The art of daffodil breeding involves the delicate task of transferring pollen between different strains to harvest seeds for new varieties. "Our aim is always to cultivate new, intriguing, and distinctive daffodils," he explained. These unique blooms are then showcased at floral exhibitions throughout the country.


Despite the challenges posed by the recent unrelenting rainfall, daffodils have thrived, belying the struggles faced by other flora. Dave Hardy, an expert in the field, observes that while traditional daffodils are yellow, the flower actually exhibits a diverse palette of colours, shapes, and sizes. "Initially, like many, I believed daffodils were exclusively yellow. It was only after my first meeting with the Northern Ireland Daffodil Group that I discovered the true variety available," he shared.


Visitors to the Court House at Royal Hillsborough, County Down, will have the opportunity to admire the finest Irish daffodils this Sunday afternoon. Additionally, attendees of the convention will embark on tours of local gardens to witness the daffodils in their quintessential Irish environments.


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