Beautiful garden essays of contest winners
In the late spring of 2020, I visited Joe Hamm’s Daffodil Hortus in Washington County, Pa. It’s one of my favorite places, the greatest collection of blooming daffodils I’ve ever seen.
I fell in love with a late blooming variety named ‘Twin Sisters,’ which had a sweet fragrance.
Each stem had two flowers, hence the name.
This heirloom variety was written about in The Gardeners Dictionary, published in 1768. Although Old House Gardens, an amazing heirloom bulb source, links the cultivar to 1597. “Generally knowne (sic) everywhere,” wrote the great herbalist John Gerard in 1597 about this fragrant wildflower he called Primrose Peerless.”
There are lots of other names for this bulb including ‘Cemetery Ladies,’ Loving Couples,’ ‘April Beauty,’ and probably a few more.
The bulb is tough, a vigorous grower which naturalizes well with a pair of white flowers with pretty yellow cups.
I ordered some bulbs from Joe for my own garden and I’m excited to give a few to a dear friend who is an identical twin (sisters). I thought that was the perfect person to receive this special variety.
Then I thought about how much fun it would be to share the variety with one lucky gardener.
I asked people to write an essay explaining why they would like to grow the daffodil. I really wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in an old fashioned contest like that. I was pleasantly surprised as I was overwhelmed with entries.
After reading them all, and reading them to a team of judges, there was no way I could pick just one winner.
I contacted Joe Hamm to see if he had any other ‘Twin Sisters’ bulbs leftover. He sent me everything he had, but many are small and will take a couple of seasons to flower.
Here are the winning essays, they are so beautifully written and show the power that the garden can possess.
My twin sister is dead.
We grew up together starting with and becoming spring green.
As our leaves reached upward, we stretched and danced.
Together, we smiled at the sun and our cups followed its glow.
The full circle of petals were our crowns.
And then I heard, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me…not.”
She was gone!
I need a support family of twin sisters!
My former wife died on September 2nd in Latham N.Y surrounded by her children and I. She fought very hard during her incredibly brave and courageous three year long battle with ovarian cancer. She has an identical twin sister who is an accomplished gardener. She misses her sister terribly. Identical twins have a special bond formed before they are born. I think these bulbs would be a wonderful, positive addition to her garden as a reminder of her life with her sister. Regardless of your contest outcome, I’d be happy if you could just tell me where I can acquire them for her.
We are not twins, or even sisters, biologically. We are sisters of the soil, rooted in the love of gardens. Over coffee and chocolate zucchini muffins we recount our adventures battling beetles and borers. We whisper secrets of tomatoes and cucumbers and giggle like teenagers over the unexpected beets that grew where I thought I planted lupines. She gives me sage advice about native plants and pollinators and we swap seeds and cuttings and plants that make us happy. When winter finds us stuck indoors looking out at a snow covered landscape, we share our dreams and plans for the next gardening season. I would plant these heirloom bulbs where I can see them blooming from my kitchen window, heads together sharing garden secrets, and think of my soil sister.
When I heard the name of these daffodils, I immediately thought of my twin sister who instilled in me the passion to garden. Growing up, she asked our mom if we could start a garden in a small patch of dirt along side our house. Armed with lots of enthusiasm and no knowledge of gardening, the little garden grew happily. When our Mom entered a personal care home, she started a raised bed garden outside her window that brought our Mom much joy and yummy vegetables. Today, with the help of our husbands, we both have large backyard gardens. She continues to inspire me by sharing new plants ideas (for example, purple beans, white magic garlic & Mighty Matto tomatoes). Her love & joy of gardening has now inspired the next generation to garden. My daughter now has a backyard garden and calls on her aunt to share successes and questions. I would love to present these bulbs to her to thank her for her love of gardening that she passed to me and so many others. Gardening as brought me and our family immense joy and peace.
I would love to add the heirloom Twin Sisters daffodils to my gardens. My gardens are a living patchwork quilt that has been in the making for more than 20 years. During that time, I’ve added plants that I love or find interesting. But the fabric of my gardens also is sewn with living gifts from loved ones in my life who have come and gone, each one as different as the person who gave them to me. There are lilacs and chives from my dad, lily-of-the-valley and prickly pear cactus from my mom, ornamental grasses and daylilies from my father-in-law, and hostas and peonies from friends and neighbors. As much as my gardens support the roots of plants, they also represent the roots of my life. I think the beautiful heirloom Twin Sisters daffodils are another strong link to our past and would be one more unique living square to include in my patchwork quilt of gardens.
I wrote this when I listened to KD program last week and I don’t think i hit send so here I go from my memory now. For more than 45 years my mom planted daffodil bulbs (in addition to an incredible array of perennials and annuals) on her corner property and to the delight of neighbors, hundreds of bloom each year. It is truly a wonderful display and absolutely breathtaking. Although my mom unfortunately passed away on March 27, 2021, this was an amazing year and she was able to watch many of them blooming in her final days. My husband and I are now living here in my childhood home and we have continued her tradition of planting bulbs and tending to her wonderful gardens, a very tall and worthy task. We would certainly be honored to plant this variety here and share the beauty with those who drive by and experience spring’s amazing display.
Megan and Maura are my twin granddaughters. Through the years they have had different personalities and they look remarkably different, too. Megan resembles her paternal family and Maura truly is her Mom’s look alike. What is known to their friends and family is their deep devotion to each other. Truly, they are two peas in a pod. As high school seniors, they will soon carve out their own futures. I would like for each girl to receive one (or more) TWIN SISTERS DAFFODILS to place in their gardens as a reminder of each other and me, too.
I think this would be a lovely remembrance of their twin sister each Spring when the daffodil blooms.
I have 8 year old identical twin daughters. They really like to help me garden! Eating cherry tomatoes right off the plant in my vegetable garden and watching the butterflies on our zinnias are some of their summer favorites. Whenever they see 2 things that are alike, they point out that they are ‘twinsies’, just like them. I think they would absolutely love having ‘Twinsies’ flowers growing in our yard!
I think most people are amazed by twins…twin anything. And, I am no exception. My maternal grandfather was a twin, my sister in law is a twin , I have taught twins, and I have wonderful 10 year old twin grandsons! These latter two have been a huge part of my life since they were born. My husband and I have helped care for them since they were born and Mom and Dad were working. When Dad lost his battle with cancer five years ago, our family has been loving and supporting my daughter and these guys, hoping to keep Dad’s memory alive. So, I would love to have these beautiful bulbs to keep in my garden as another memory of my son in law.
These essays show the power of plants and how they can mean so much to us.