Spring in the East Bay isn’t heralded by signs or banners, but instead by thousands of trumpet-shaped yellow flowers poking through the soil of sill beds, on roadsides, and, most notably, in the gardens at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum.
“We see five to six thousand visitors each April and May,” shares Tree Callanan, Director of Communications & Visitor Experience. Daffodil Days are a yearly celebration at Blithewold, accompanied by Daffodil teas, workshops, and events like Daffodils at Dusk, an early evening gathering with cocktails and music. “As you can imagine, people just love to see the daffodils arrive after a long, gray winter. The bright yellow is so perky that it really lifts your spirit.”
The grounds at Blithewold are already stunning, with their gravel paths, stone structures, views of Narragansett Bay, and Idea Garden. But when these golden blossoms pop up in clusters along the trails, it’s a sunny sight to behold. “We believe that Bessie Van Wickle McKee and her daughter planted daffodils for decades in the early part of the twentieth century,” says Gail Read, Horticulturist, Gardens and Greenhouse Manager. Today, the landscape – modeled after the woodland charm of an old English country estate – boasts 50 varieties of daffodils and 75,000 blooms each year.
Before Daffodil Days begin, the garden staff and volunteers are a flurry of activity, tidying up the gardens and grounds in preparation. Each season, they add more bulbs to bloom for the next, as daffodils are hardy perennials, meaning they return year after year.
“The weather plays an important role in determining the length of bloom time,” Gail explains. “Warmer temperatures speed up the blooms, and of course cooler temperatures – especially at night – keep blooms going longer.” While the gardens staff can’t predict the weather, bloom time typically lasts five to six weeks, during which the native wildflowers like trout lilies and mayapples join the fray.
Keep an eye on Blithewold’s website, Facebook, and Instagram for more details on how to sign up for the Daffodil Teas, classes, workshops, and events.