Daffodils over 100 years old dazzle at Hever

March 14 2024 | Garden

Visitors will be able to visit the daffodils at Hever Castle which are in bloom for their 120th year.

It’s thought that many of the bulbs in Anne Boleyn’s Orchard are over a century old, and some have links to the first daffodils brought to these shores in the 17th century.

Hever Castle is famous as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn but the garden is largely the creation of William Waldorf Astor, who bought Hever in 1903.

It is thought the large collection of daffodils were planted in 1904.

Neil Miller, Head Gardener, joined the team over 20 years ago.

He says: “Daffodils are like instant sunshine. When you see daffodils starting to open, it’s such a joyful sight.”

Neil and his team look after 80,000 daffodils at Hever

The head gardener said he had inspected the daffodils and, knowing that Lord Astor was a keen buyer of new varieties, believed they were originals.

Dazzling Daffodils will run from Monday 18th to Sunday 24th with twice daily tours with Johnny Walkers and Neil Miller (Monday – Friday) and with the gardeners (Saturday & Sunday).

The duo will take visitors on a magical mystery tour through time, revealing the secret delights of heritage bulbs that flower for decades (some for centuries), and the new varieties that continue to capture the public’s attention in spring.

Johnny Walkers has the Midas touch, being the recipient of 25 consecutive RHS Chelsea gold medals.  His daffodil varieties have populated at Hever over the last six years thanks to a unique collaboration with Neil who is keen to grow the dazzling display year on year.

Neil explains: “Our CEO Duncan had the wonderful idea of creating the Dazzling Daffodil event some six years ago and bringing Johnny Walkers on board.  The event has grown and the relationship with Johnny and Taylors Bulbs has been hugely beneficial helping us to extend the flowering season.  Visitors can now enjoy daffodils from the second week of March all the way to the end of April with the later varieties accompanying the tulips as they begin to bloom.”

Johnny says: “It’s always a special week for me and my wife when we are invited to join Neil Miller at Hever for Dazzling Daffodils.  It’s such a special place, with a wonderful horticultural history. Whatever the weather, we always enjoy touring visitors through Anne Boleyn’s Orchard where the collection of heritage daffodils never fails to engage and stimulate us all!”

Castle florist Pamela Brise will be creating daffodil displays inside the Castle itself and visitors can learn facts about daffodils as they follow the daffodil trail through the Estate.

Tours: Monday – Friday with Johnny. Walkers and Neil Miller 11:30am and 2pm, Saturday – Sunday 11:30am and 2pm with the gardening team.