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Tulips and daffodils now grow on the ground once owned
by George Washington. The daffodil was considered the
“Poor Man’s Rose” during the Depression.
Adams Co. Correspondent
GLOUCESTER, Va. - In the
sandy soil of the Tidewater
region of Virginia near the tiny
village of Gloucester, daffodils
crowd onto the banks of a shad
ed pond and stand proudly in
stlaight field rows.
Surely George Washington,
w to once came by this land
w en his brother made a bad
b< ;, would be proud of the way
the soil has been used for the
past three generations.
Today the owner of 10 acres -
In 1900, Heath’s grandfather, who was from the north, visited the area and admired Three years ago, the Heaths with 1.5 million In sales, sold
the daffodils that had naturalized. A cottage Industry was bom when he picked and most of the business to be able to devote more time to lec
shlpped the flowers to northern markets via steamboat. He had daffodil bulbs turlng and educating. They kept 10 acres to continue to
lmportedfromEnglandandHolland.Theflowersgrewblggerandwlthlongerstemsln hybridize flowers. People from all over Ihe world visit to
the sandy soil. admire the gardens when In bloom.
the farm has gone up and down
in size over the years - are
Brent and Becky Heath who
hybridize daffodils. Or, as they
say, "We breed daffodils."
The couple, standing in front
of a large building that houses
some of the operations of their
business, talk to a group gath
ered for a tour of the farm.
Brent explains, "I got here
because my grandfather,
Charles Heath, who was a
Yankee, came for a visit (in
1900) and fell in love with the
area and bought a place and
Becky and Brent Heath check out some of the blooming daffodils In their display
garden near Gloucester, Va. The couple has a hybridizing operation where many var
ieties of daffodils and tulips grow.
f ~\Jf T?i
then became a Damn Yankee.
He noticed people picking little
daffodils that had naturalized.
They were picking them and
taking them down to the steam
boat landing...they were ship
ping the little daffodils to north
"A cottage industry had
begun. It seemed to be quite a
nice little, promising industry.
But he had seen bigger and bet
ter daffodils in Europe, England
and Holland.-.bigger flowers and
Taking this into account,
Charles imported bulbs and
they grew well so he imported
more bulbs and began to sell
them to local people.
Brent continues, "By the time
the Depression rolled around,
Gloucester and Mathews
Counties had more daffodils
than anywhere else in the coun
try." The daffodil was consid
ered the "Poor Man’s Rose" dur
ing the Depression.
Brent's parents, Katharine
and George Heath, were the
next generation to take over,
owning and operating the
Daffodil Mart in Gloucester
Brent said as a child, that
teachers would let kids out of
school to pick flowers in the
spring at two cents a bunch. If
you'd hustle, you could make a
bunch of money in a day's time.
He remembers four to five
tractor-trailers loaded with the
spring flower leaving the farm
in peak season.
In 1972, after working for
four years as director of a nature
camp, Brent began to buy the
Daffodil Mart from his mother.
In 1978 when he and Becky
married, he said, "I had a nice
business. I loved the daffodils
and I collected a lot of different
varieties...but I just had a price
list of daffodils, I wasn't a great
Brent describes Becky, a for
mer music teacher in the public
school system, as "more orderly"
and the one responsible for com
puterizing the operation.
The business grew "dramati
cally" with 1.5 million in sales.
Three years ago the couple sold
it to White Flower Farms, with
the understanding they they
could continue to do what they
do best. This year they were
notified that they were no longer
(Turn to Pago B 3)