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The Oscars of the Horticultural World 

Emails, emails, we all get them, we rarely want them. Not too long ago, I found an email I was happy to receive: a message from the Royal Horticultural Society. They invited me to Lindley Hall on March 27 to attend an award ceremony. A good reason to travel to London, because the committee members of the RHS’s Bulb Committee had chosen me as this year’s recipient of the Peter Barr Memorial Cup. I had to walk the green carpet!The Peter Barr Memorial Cup might require some explanation for some readers. Not the ones who are true Daffodil enthusiasts, I’m sure: you are reading this with utmost surprise as you already know just how special this moment was for me. So, for everyone else: the Peter Barr Memorial Cup is an award given for the work someone has done over their entire life, and it is probably one of the most important decorations of the Daffodil World. The award has been around since 1912, and every year, the Bulb Committee chooses someone that has done good work for Daffodils.

This year, it was my turn to receive this beautiful distinction. The RHS President, Mr Keith Weed, wrote the following motivation:

The Peter Barr Memorial Cup is awarded annually by the RHS Bulb Committee to someone who, in the Committee’s opinion, has done good work of some kind in connection with Daffodils.

The RHS Bulb Committee has awarded the Peter Barr Memorial Cup to Mr Carlos van der Veek.

Carlos is currently one of the foremost specialists in Daffodils. His father, Karel van der Veek, was a Daffodil grower and hybridizer and Carlos has brought the family knowledge and traditions forward to make his collection one of the most comprehensive in the world.

Carlos has propagated, registered, and marketed new hybrids raised by a number of hybridisers and brought new cultivars to the market. This is a valuable step in supporting small nursery owners who have the skills and means to carry out hybridization, but do not have the space or the facilities to then produce bulbs in sufficient numbers for retail. These new Daffodils, with desirable characteristics, are made available for use in displays and competitions, and also benefit the horticultural trade.

Carlos exports Daffodil bulbs through an inline business, Fluwel, and sends regular newsletters to subscribers to promote Daffodil sales, highlight new cultivars, and educate readers about the best way to grow them. He travels widely, contributes to bulbs for trials, flowers for exhibition and display, and looks for new ways to encourage Daffodil cultivation.

These words were more than enough to get me on to a train and on my merry way to England. As I am going through all the motions to enter the country, the same motions that the previous generation had deemed unnecessary but that have been brought back by my own peers, I wonder if we’ve kicked them out of the Eurovision Song Contest because of it. Well, whatever. We create these problems for our children, not for ourselves.When I got there, I had time left over to go for a walk. I was lucky: during my visit, hundreds and hundreds of agricultural workers were demonstrating, driving around the parliament and Downing Street to protest. Beautiful to see: a square full of people and tractors, and it seemed to be very friendly from where I was standing. I’ll not bore you with the details of why I agree with their presence; let’s get back to my Gardening Oscar.

It was a festive day, during which a number of people received a distinction of some kind. Some really are very prestigious: the Elizabeth Medal of Honour, for example. This one has been introduced last year, with permission by King Charles III. This year, they awarded that decoration to my dear friend Jan Pennings from Breezand. In the eyes of the RHS, he has made immensely valuable contributions to horticulture, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. Jan has spent his life tirelessly promoting flower bulbs, mostly Daffodils, but also many others, and he has been a part of the RHS for a very long time: he is surely one of their most important connections to The Netherlands, too.

There are also awards that may seem just a little funny to those outside of this line of work: The Lenox Trophy is one of those. This distinction goes to the person who had the best vegetable. “The nicest vegetable ever seen,” the Jury said to the recipient of this trophy. Absolutely amazing. The vegetable in question was lettuce.

And obviously one of the most valued awards of the evening: The Peter Barr Memorial Cup. At least, in the eyes of Daffodil enthusiasts like myself. It truly is the best compliment you can get for your work, or hobby, I should say, and I am very grateful to have received it. It was a fantastic day, with a lot of amazing people.Naturally, we ended the day with a pint in the pubAnd the next day I was back on the train with Jan and Ans PenningsUnfortunately, the Cup cannot be taken home. It was put back into its box safely, this time with my name engraved into it in fancy script, next to all my fellow Daffodil fans.Narcissus Emerald Green

Lastly, a practical message: the spring blooming flower bulbs are made available again in our web shop. If you have a very specific wish list, or if you are just an early bird, you can order your flowers for next year. As always, we store them in their ideal circumstances in our warehouse until autumn, until you can plant them right away when you receive them.

Kind regards, and happy Easter,

Carlos van der Veek