The Man with the Midas Touch
The Story behind the Modern Commercial Hybridization of Narcissus Flowers
Johnny Walkers, the founder of Walkers Bulbs, specializes in the mail order division for narcissist flowers. He secured 23 consecutive gold medals from the Chelsea Flower Show. He is the Honorary Vice-President in maintaining daffodil quality standards and considers himself to have bulbs running in his blood. His parents were bulb growers who came from Holland in the 1930’s and were stranded in the onset of WWII. After the war, large numbers of people experiencing renewed hope and aspirations to rebuild damaged lives were prepared to take a coach or train to wonder around floral parades and be uplifted by the perfume and sight of millions of bright flowers.
Johnny worked with his parents and attended Horticultural College before establishing his quality assurance scheme for a group of English bulb growers and part of his responsibility was to advise growers to maintain quality standards.
“Now bulbs are kept warm in trays in a temperature-controlled store, 20-22 degrees Celsius until Christmas; then, ten days of 10 degrees C in good quality, damp compost to encourage rooting; followed by thirteen weeks of cold store at 2 degrees C. Three weeks before Chelsea, they are moved into glasshouses – that’s when I start praying. Four hours of sunshine is worth 10 degrees of oil.”
For this modern commercial hybridization that takes fifteen to twenty years of development, before acceptance on the International Daffodil Register and mass production, Mother natures ultraviolet light is key. With his secret weapon, which comes with an eye for details, form and color, he became known as the Man With the Midas Touch.