Goodwood Museum & Gardens
Daffodils often bloom in January. Call Goodwood for status.
Goodwood Museum & Gardens is an American Daffodil Society Display Garden.
The Goodwood website describes this special place: "Goodwood's property is unique. Some people visiting the gardens might say they look unkempt, but actually they have been restored to capture much of their early 20th century design and presentation. Goodwood garden staff and volunteers dedicate their work to preservation of the gardens by using only heirloom plant material that was available in North Florida at the turn of the 20th century. Significant horticultural features of the property include an extensive collection of Old Garden Roses, heirloom bulbs, large Sago Palms, centuries old live oak trees and magnolias. Much of the charm of Goodwood resides in the picturesque, relaxed, informal and un-manicured presentation of the grounds."
Goodwood, dating back to 1834, has undergone many changes in its long history. While it started as a working plantation house, it eventually became more of a town-estate home in the 1880s, and that's when its gardening history with daffodils began.
The first daffodils at Goodwood were planted between 1885 and 1911 by then-owner Elizabeth Arrowsmith. As she came to Tallahassee directly from England, she would have been familiar with daffodils. As a gardener, she is credited with planting the "West Lawn" with bulbs, which is over 500 feet long and varies from 50 to 100 feet wide. It is believed the "West Lawn" was Elizabeth's answer to the new trend in gardening sweeping England in the 1880s and 1890s of the "wild garden" as promulgated by the great landscape designer and philosopher William Robinson. Robinson was the first to advocate planting spring bulbs in the grass, and Elizabeth (and subsequent owners) were only too happy to oblige.
The bulbs were planted to face the front drive along the undulating drip line of the planted live oak trees. An indication of the importance of the West Lawn is its close proximity to the house. Since 1991, daffodils have been visible each year; with the cessation of mowing in 1994 plus the "limbing up" of the live oak trees to allow more sunlight to reach the lawn, the surviving daffodils have strengthened and now thrive. Surviving bulbs from Arrowsmith's day include paperwhites, N. italicus, N. x intermedius, N. x odorus, and 'Telamonius Plenus' (aka "Van Sion"). Elizabeth is likely also responsible for the fresias and the 'Grand Primo Citroniere' found along the original dripline planting.
Fanny Tiers, the subsequent owner to Elizabeth, lived at Goodwood in the winter seasons from 1911 to 1924. She constructed a path, seen in a 1913 photograph, from the swimming pool to the skating rinks, edged with a double row of N. x odorus (aka Campernelle jonquil). The path was discovered in 1997 and will be fully restored in 2010. Fanny also had the grounds around the house thoroughly scraped, so no plants remain from any previous owner. This was done partially as a fear of snakes and partly from a fear of fire.
Margaret Hood, Goodwood's owner from 1925 to 1978, expanded the West Lawn bulb garden. In the 1920s and 1930s, she planted azaleas, hydrangeas, and planted more daffodils in front of these shrubs. She collected paperwhites and planted two squares close to the current drive way. Today, some of her benches have daffodils crowded around them. She returned to the practice of not mowing the West Lawn. She added Lycoris radiata, Leucojum aestivum and species Gladiolus, so that there were thousands of bulbs in the garden.
Other daffodils found at Goodwood include 'Orange Phoenix' and N. jonquilla. It is unclear at this time who is responsible for these daffodils. A woman as a child went with her mother to Goodwood in the 1930s, and remembers that Goodwood was "a sea of yellow" in the spring, a small child's impression of daffodils. By instituting a "No Mow" policy, daffodils have slowly rebuilt their strength across the property, continuing to surprise (and delight) Goodwood staff and visitors alike.
Text courtesy of Goodwood Museum and Gardens.
Last Updated: January 1, 2016