The Tamar Valley was once the heart of a Victorian success story built on early strawberries and daffodils. It was the combination of entrepreneurial and the gardening skills of these pioneer market gardeners that made them so effective. Mr. Septimus Oliver Jackson of Clamoak Farm at Weir Quay near Bere Alston was one of them.
He noticed double white narcissi growing in a hedge near his farm. ‘Entranced by their heady perfume (he) sent a few bunches (in c.1880) for sale as speculation (to Devonport market). In this way the Tamar Valley flower industry was born.’ (The Industrial Archeology of the Tamar Valley – 1967 by Frank Booker).
Mr. Jackson spotted a niche market, a late flowering daffodil ready just in time for the May Bank Holiday. Its perfume and delicate petals made it perfect to bridge the gap between spring and summer flowers.
The Tamar Double White Daffodil can be difficult to cultivate. It is now only found in tiny clusters in the Bere Peninsula. It is a sleeping beauty waiting for the patience and skill of a modern day market gardener to take up its cause and bring its delightful scent back into our rooms.
This project (funded through the Local Heritage Initiative) resulted in a collection of oral histories being recorded and a book ‘Sovereigns, Madams & Double Whites’, celebrating the fruit & flower pioneers of the Tamar Valley. The book won an Holyer an Gof (Cornish Gorsedd) award.