Reply/response to John Hunter’s message on Daffnet, 12th April 2009

June 7, 2009
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Categories: Daffodil Types, Historics

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I would not normally respond to the Internet ramblings of an individual but as the message sent on April 12th, 2009 at 12.38 is from the Historian to the National Daffodil Society of New Zealand, I feel I must do so, not only to correct the writer’s errors but also to protect the integrity of the hard working group of volunteers who searched out ‘Weardale Perfection’.
The facts are that the bulb which I used to propagate this cultivar was located in a garden in Wolsingham which formerley belonged to the District Nurse, Gladys Young. Several people in the district new that Nurse Young had grown ‘Weardale Perfection’ in her garden and the fact that this bulb met most closely the criteria used in our assessment, gave extra credence to our selection.
What I did not know at the time of making this selection was where Nurse Young had obtained her bulbs from and this information only came to light in 2008. She got her bulbs from Bedburn Hall, a neighbouring property to St. John’s Hall, Wolsingham, wher William Backhouse carried out his hybridization. The bulbs were lifted for Nurse Young by the Hall’s current owner and given to her in 1991. The Hall’s owner also informs me that the bulbs came directly from St. John’s as a gift from the last Backhouse to reside there( Charles James Backhouse 1848-1915). The gift was made during a visit for lunch and the bulbs were planted by the edge of the lake at Bedburn so that Backhouse would be able to see them flowering from the house on subsequent visits.
The original planting by the lake has got less over the years due to erosion of the lake’s edge and now only very few plants remain. So these are the facts which I am sure most historians would prefer to use when forming any judgement.
Mr Hunter’s statement regarding the substance of ‘Weardale Perfection’ is pure fantasy.I really like the way he is prepared to use Robert Sydenham’s book ‘All About Daffodils’ (1911) to further his argument regarding ‘Mrs Langtry’ while totally disregarding the contents of the same edition, which states on page 97 that ‘Weardale Perfection’ “has a large creamy white perianth of great substance”! Clearly, Mr Hunter does not appreciate that the external changes in William Backhouse’s best cultivars such as ‘Emperor’, ‘Empress’ and ‘Weardale Perfection were linked to changes in their chromosome content and it was this which made them such prominent advances at that time, different and better than what had gone before and indeed, much which came after.

 

From: David Willis
To:  title=
Subject: Backhouse’s Daffodils
I would not normally respond to the Internet ramblings of an individual but as the message sent on April 12th, 2009 at 12.38 is from the Historian to the National Daffodil Society of New Zealand, I feel I must do so, not only to correct the writer’s errors but also to protect the integrity of the hard working group of volunteers who searched out ‘Weardale Perfection’.
The facts are that the bulb which I used to propagate this cultivar was located in a garden in Wolsingham which formerley belonged to the District Nurse, Gladys Young. Several people in the district new that Nurse Young had grown ‘Weardale Perfection’ in her garden and the fact that this bulb met most closely the criteria used in our assessment, gave extra credence to our selection.
What I did not know at the time of making this selection was where Nurse Young had obtained her bulbs from and this information only came to light in 2008. She got her bulbs from Bedburn Hall, a neighbouring property to St. John’s Hall, Wolsingham, wher William Backhouse carried out his hybridization. The bulbs were lifted for Nurse Young by the Hall’s current owner and given to her in 1991. The Hall’s owner also informs me that the bulbs came directly from St. John’s as a gift from the last Backhouse to reside there( Charles James Backhouse 1848-1915). The gift was made during a visit for lunch and the bulbs were planted by the edge of the lake at Bedburn so that Backhouse would be able to see them flowering from the house on subsequent visits.
The original planting by the lake has got less over the years due to erosion of the lake’s edge and now only very few plants remain. So these are the facts which I am sure most historians would prefer to use when forming any judgement.
Mr Hunter’s statement regarding the substance of ‘Weardale Perfection’ is pure fantasy.I really like the way he is prepared to use Robert Sydenham’s  book ‘All About Daffodils’ (1911) to further his argument regarding ‘Mrs Langtry’ while totally disregarding the contents of the same edition, which states on page 97 that ‘Weardale Perfection’ “has a large creamy white perianth of great substance”! Clearly, Mr Hunter does not appreciate that the external changes in William Backhouse’s best cultivars such as ‘Emperor’, ‘Empress’ and ‘Weardale Perfection were linked to changes in their chromosome content and it was this which made them such prominent advances at that time, different and better than what had gone before and indeed, much which came after.

 

 

One response to “Reply/response to John Hunter’s message on Daffnet, 12th April 2009”

  1. Brian Duncan, Northern Ireland Brian Duncan says:

    Dear Lynne or is it David?,
      I confess I am not much of a daffodil historian though I do like to trace heritage of modern varieties. I do not have John Hunter’s 12 April posting to hand but I suspect that this note challenges whatever conclusions he came to. I would only say that I distrust the veracity of so much of this type of historical information. Without precise records of exact seedling numbers and subsequent evidence of naming those certain seedlings I fear it all comes down to guesses and speculation. The story of the District Nurse and the origin of the bulbs is most interesting and may be relevant – but with so many seedlings being grown by the Backhouses I cannot know how is it possible to determine authenticity of the name? However, facts (or lack of them) should never be allowed to spoil a good story !!
    David, we’ve been out of touch for so long – time to communicate again!! This challenge might do it???

    Brian