Society’s Early History
In the Beginning..
The daffodil has held a special place in the hearts of New Zealand gardeners from the first European settlements. Testimony to this can still be seen in plantings of daffodils still surviving around old home sites long abandoned all over New Zealand.
Horticultural shows were a feature of the social fabric of early European settlement in New Zealand. There were exhibitions held in even the smallest of communities featuring vegetables, fruit, flowers and livestock.
By the 1800’s, horticultural societies were scheduling separate classes for daffodils. In 1898, the Wellington Horticultural Society is credited with being the first to hold a show dedicated solely to daffodils. By the time, there were several nurserymen importing, breeding, and listing daffodils in their catalogues and selling bulbs throughout the country.
Otahuna, September 1913. Otahuna is situated near Tai Tapu, about 20 kms from Christchurch. This was the home of Hon. Sir Heaton Rhodes, M.P. and Daffodil raiser.
In 1926, a number of enthusiasts formed the National Daffodil Society and in September of that year, the inaugural meeting was held in Lower Hutt. The Society’s Secretary, Mr. W.A. Grace, stated that “I have been in constant contact with 400 daffodil growers, representing every district throughout the Dominion…” This shows the wide interest in daffodil growing at that time.
The first National Daffodil Society Show was held at the Town Hall in Lower Hutt, on the 14th and 15th of September, 1927. That year, the South Island Show was held at the Drill Hall in Oamaru, on the 27th of September.
And so began a long tradition of North Island and South Island shows held by the National Daffodil Society each year.
National Daffodil Society members at a show in 1932.
Our Historian is John Hunter and is very knowledgeable about the history of the daffodil and our Society. You can contact John at JAHunter@xtra.co.nz . More details on the Society’s history may be found in the 2001 issue of the NDSNZ Daffodil Annual.