Lost daffodils return to National Trust from Down Under

Two extremely rare types of daffodil have returned to their Morayshire home - after being discovered in Australia.

Daffodil 'Bulwark'. Image: Supplied
Daffodil 'Bulwark'. Image: Supplied

The 'Bulwark' and 'Rosslare' daffodils were bred by Ian Brodie, 24th Laird of Brodie, at Brodie Castle near Forres in the 1920s and 30s. They were among 180 unique cultivars named by the laird, some of which have since been lost to cultivation.

Brodie Castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, which hosts and jointly manages the National Collection of Brodie Daffodils with the voluntary organisation Plant Heritage. The collection currently holds 110 of the cultivars, which can be seen blooming in the castle grounds each spring.

Six years ago Plant Heritage volunteers found two missing varieties thriving in a specialist nursery in Australia and they raised funds and purchased some of the bulbs. Over the past six years, the bulbs have been carefully grown in their private gardens in Scotland, allowing the flowers to increase in number and acclimatise, including moving the timing of their flowering period from the Australian to the Scottish spring.

The bulbs have now been given to the National Trust for Scotland's gardens team so the flowers can once again grow in the grounds where they originated. The handover took place at the Trust's Malleny Garden in Edinburgh.

"It's very special to have the 'Bulwark' and 'Rosslare' cultivars back at Brodie, and we are grateful that members of Plant Heritage have helped bring them back," said Frances Keeton, the Brodie Castle Gardener who curates the daffodil collection.

"These are extremely rare and there will only be a few of them left in the world. They are very typical of a Brodie daffodil."

In his lifetime Ian Brodie bred 420 different cultivars, but not all were named by him. He sold his daffodils to breeders all over the world, including New Zealand and North America. The 'Bulwark' and 'Rosslare' varieties probably reached Australia by that route.

The new daffodils will initially be grown in the shelter of a polytunnel before joining the glorious spring display at Brodie Castle in the future.

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