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Since their earliest identification in the mid-1500s, more than twenty-eight thousand hybrid daffodils have been named and registered with the Royal Horticulture Society of England. Daffodils began as wildflowers in the Mediterranean basin, then spread and flourished in Europe's alpine and coastal environments. Sara L. Van Beck, an attentive historian and skilled horticulturist, traces the history of the garden daffodil including its early days in Europe, especially the Netherlands; the importation of flowering bulbs to colonial America; and plant breeding and the dissemination of plants throughout the United States until World War II.
Illustrated with nearly two hundred color and black-and-white images, Daffodils in American Gardens, 1733-1940 examines gardening by era – European beginnings; colonial, federal, antebellum, and Victorian periods; and World War II – with a comprehensive chapter for daffodils in cemetery plantings. Van Beck combines the disparate disciplines of archaeology and plant science to discover and re-create important gardens in the United States. Combining primary research from a variety of rare publications, especially nursery catalogs and seed lists, she integrates old and new scientific botany by correlating older, uncertain scientific terms, common names for the daffodil, and modern taxonomies. Historic and modern botanical illustrations embellish Daffodils in American Gardens, 1733-1940 and complement Van Beck's narrative.
Case studies of surviving historic gardens from the early Republic era to the twentieth century examine how old daffodils have survived the vagaries of time. Van Beck surveys historic properties in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
This multifaceted history, examining high style, vernacular, and commercial landscape architecture, is geared toward general gardeners interested in heirloom plants and historic gardens. Moreover, extensive endnotes and a comprehensive bibliography document extensive references for professionals working in historic landscapes preservation and garden restoration.
Sara L. Van Beck, horticulturist and plant historian, is an officer of the American Daffodil Society and serves on the board of the Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center. Van Beck has worked as a museum curator with the National Park Service and is the former president of the Georgia Daffodil Society. She is co-author of Daffodils in Florida: A Field Guide to the Coastal South and has written articles for the Daffodil Journal, the Magnolia bulletin of the Southern Garden History Society, and Florida Gardening.