Remarkable string of awards for daffodil breeder

00:00, Oct 05 2012
Daffs
OUTSTANDING: Champion daffodil breeder Denise McQuarrie with husband Neil McQuarrie and Daisy the dog.

A daffodil breeder's adage says the hobby is “11 months of anticipation and one month of disappointment”.

But this year that changed to one month of joy for Ngatimoti breeder Denise McQuarrie, who capped a remarkable string of awards by winning the champion bloom award at the World Daffodil Convention 2012 in Dunedin last weekend. The week before that she won the champion bloom award at the Nelson regional show at Brightwater. She took the same title at the North Island national championships in Hamilton.

The bloom that won the World Daffodil Convention award was a British bloom, ‘Moonshadow', and Mrs McQuarrie said it was a winning bloom because it was highly symmetrical, large, and had “nice fresh colours”, with white petals and a yellow cup. “It was the only one of all the Moonshadows I grow that was perfect enough to pick,” Mrs McQuarrie said.

The World Daffodil Convention is the largest global daffodil competition and is held every four years. She also won the Best of British Raised daffodil prize, and Best White in Show with a seedling she bred herself.

Mrs McQuarrie has been breeding daffodils at her four-hectare Ngatimoti property for about 30 years and said she had won only one champion bloom title before, though she has been close many times. She has always loved daffodils, spending part of her first pay packet on bulbs, but attending a national show in Nelson in 1972 was a conversion experience.

“I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all the daffodils - they were magnificent,” she said.

Along with her husband, Neil, Mrs McQuarrie grows about 50,000 blooms, with most in what she calls the “field of dreams”, a 0.3ha patch of naturalised daffodils at its best three weeks ago when a travelling party of international daffodil judges on their way to the World Daffodil Convention visited.

The rest are in a “show garden” where promising seedlings are grown to show standards.

Mr McQuarrie said they grew hundreds of varieties of daffodils but “we don't count. You know you've got a millstone but it's a lovely millstone.”

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