A double Irish

Now that I have your interest, this is not about clever ways to save money but a daffodil. The daffodil is ‘Arkle’ and it was raised in Ireland. ‘Arkle’ was a remarkable Irish racehorse and the breeder of this cultivar was a remarkable breeder of daffodils who lived in Waterford. He lived from 1890 to 1961 and raised an enormous range of good daffodils, many of which are still grown commercially today. After his death his wife, Helen, continued his work, selling and showing daffodils and continued to name and introduce new daffodils, many raised previously by her husband – it takes a long time from sowing a seed from a careful cross to introducing a new plant.

I have been planting a lot of new daffodils and some have cost more than I should sensibly spend. Some cost £5 each and one £10  but that is my limit, though in the past I have spent more than that on new iris.  I must be sensible.

But Lionel Richardson’s Prospect House Gold Medal-winning catalogue from 1941 has some of his new daffs at eye-watering prices! His ‘Arklow’ with white perianth and brick red cup, cost £10 each – in 1941! That is worth more than £400 now. The pure white trumpet daff ‘Glendalough’ cost £15. You can see a trend here in the names and many carry Irish place names. But he also used exotic names and his yellow and orange double ‘Tahiti’ is still a popular and good daffodil. The still popular double ‘Acropolis’ in red and white, was introduced in 1959. He was known for his bright and contrasting colours.

I planted some ‘Camelot’ in grass, not realising that it too is a Richardson daffodil. It too is a golden daffodil though a large-cup not a trumpet. It is described in the 1966 catalogue as ‘the best self yellow introduced since ‘Galway’. It has an AGM.

He also named many after race horses, though ‘Arkle was named after his death.

‘Arkle’ is a big yellow trumpet (1 Y-Y) with flowers 150mm across. It is a sturdy plant and the flowers, though large, are held well. It is not especially fragrant, like some – see the blog tomorrow for those – but has that lovely daffodil smell. Although registered in 1968 it got its AGM in 2001. It is not common, partly I think because when it comes to yellow daffs, everyone wants ‘King Alfred’ and will buy anything in a pack labelled as such, no matter what it actually contains. It is not without fault – the petals are rather wavy and do not lie in one plane, but it is a lovely plant and I am happy to have it for its link to both horticulture and Irish horse racing. Living from 1957 to 1970 Arkle was born in County Meath but named after a Scottish Mountain. He was so successful that the racing authorities devised two weight handicap systems for when he was running and Arkle won the 1964 Irish Grand National carrying two and half stone more than the other horses. You can see a life-size bronze statue of him in Ashbourne. Co. Meath.

A great daffodil raised by a great gardener and named after a great horse.

Note – the pic above was taken several days ago when the first flowers had just opened. I will try to add another now they look better.

Job done



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4 Comments on “A double Irish”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    April 12, 2020 at 10:44 am #

    Richardson’s certainly made a huge contribution to Irish daffodils.

    A street in Waterford is named after the family. Generally, shortened to “The Folly”. the full name is “Richardson’s Folly”. It marks where there nursery was located. There was to be a talk to our local gardening club on the nursery this year but it had to be cancelled due to the shutdown. Hopefully, we will have it next year.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 12, 2020 at 11:55 am #

      I did not know that – I will have to investigate when we can travel again. And come and hear the talk

  2. tonytomeo
    April 13, 2020 at 2:54 am #

    I STILL prefer ‘King Alfred’. For such a common cultivar, it is weirdly uncommon here. Fancier types are preferred. I know I should try some of them, particularly the fragrant ones. I have really grown only a few, and most of those few were not by choice. Some were gifts from neighbors. Some are feral bulbs that naturalized from landscape debris. Fortunately, I never met one that I disliked.

  3. digwithdorris
    April 13, 2020 at 9:42 am #

    I love the racehorse connection.

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