He who has two breads, sells one for a few daffodils. Bread may be food for the body, daffodils are food for the soul.
This is a very old quote from the prophet Mohamed, who lived on earth around the year 600. Not everyone understood him (some still don’t), but one thing is for sure: the man loved his daffodils.
There is no better compliment for this humble flower. It may sound a little spiritual to you, food for the soul, but for me it is absolutely true. The Daffodil makes me happy.
It is not only the cheerful flower, who is one of the first to bloom every year, who brings me happiness. The very same daffodils have also brought me heart warming friendships and acquaintances.
My father was probably the biggest Daffodil collector and specialist in the Netherlands, Karel van der Veek. He introduced me to fellow daffodil enthusiasts from all over the world.
My father Karel van der Veek’s daffodil collection in 2005
Daffodil lovers came from all over the world to see the collection. At its peak, in the year of my father’s passing in 2003, it consisted of 2.635 different varieties. And those were only the varieties that had a name. There were over a thousand other daffodils in the collection that were planted by number, as they did not have a name yet.
Father Karel with his beloved hobby: hybridizing daffodils
I do not have quite so many different varieties anymore, but the Fluwel nursery has well over a thousand different Daffodils right now. I still get visitors from all over the world who want to have a look at that collection.
The Fluwel Daffodil Nursery in April of this year
I can spend hours walking through my daffodils with these people. Often, we don’t go home until our feet are frozen and the sun has set.
When visitors leave they always invite us to their place to come have a look at their daffodils next year.
Because of this I have met many people who share my passion for daffodils, and some people who are even crazier about them than I am! Because of all these people I have seen places I never would have visited without them.
Brian Duncan teaching me how to arrange my daffodils for the RHS Daffodil show in Rosemoor Gardens
One of these places in Omagh in Northern Ireland. This is the hometown of Brian Duncan, someone who is regarded as ‘The Godfather’ in the Daffodil world. He is well over 80 years old, his 90’s are almost in sight, but he still spends his Springs hybridizing daffodils like a young god.
Every year he sends me a wish list with nice daffodils he wants to use for his hybridizing projects. Of course I would give those varieties to him for free, but he is not allowing me to do that: if I don’t accept anything in return, he feels guilty and won’t ask me again next year, but I would never ask him for money. So we came to a different agreement: he buys my flower bulbs with Whiskey (Yes, the e is there in Ireland). It is fantastic to drive back home after a few days at his home accompanied by a few beautiful bottles of Whiskey.
But, besides Brian I have good friends in Cornwall, the Mecca of Daffodil growing. There are thousands of hectares there that are used for picking daffodils during the winter months.
This is where Mark Vandervliet lives. He has spent the majority of his life as a daffodil grower, but now he and his right hand Sally have gotten into hybridization as well. Sally is very humble and kind, and without her even realizing it about herself she is one of the best Daffodil hybridizers there are.
In Japan, Germany, The USA, Chile and Spain, I have also met wonderful people who all share a passion: daffodils.
So, the daffodil truly is food for the soul for me. She brought me to many different places and introduced me to many different people.
The Fluwel web shop has also originated from my love for Daffodils. I had people telling me that they were so disappointed that they could not buy my daffodil collection anywhere. I didn’t sell all those varieties at the time and neither did anyone else.
I started a nursery from our own collection and many of those varieties are now for sale in the Fluwel web shop, so you can enjoy all those beautiful flowers as well. A lot of the varieties are still very small in number, so I don’t sell them yet, but in the next few years the amount of varieties I am able to sell will only grow.
Carlos van der Veek