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Omagh daffodil breeder crowned winner of prestigious Royal Horticultural Society award...for 21st time!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Omagh daffodil breeder crowned winner of prestigious Royal Horticultural Society award...for 21st time! thumbnailLocal well known daffodil breeder, Brian Duncan, with a selection of his daffodils for which he won the Engleheart Cup recently in London.

AN Omagh daffodil breeder could hardly contain his pride when he was crowned the winner of the Engleheart Cup, which is one of the most prestigious awards on offer at the Royal Horticultural Society's Daffodil Show in London just over a week ago.

When Brian Duncan, who is the president of Omagh Gardening Society, first began breeding daffodils in 1964, he had the Engleheart Cup in his sights and set himself a goal of winning it, but little did he know that 2017 would see him receiving the accolade for the 21st time!

"This is the 21st time I have won it which is nice," smiled Brian. "My first was in 1985 and when I started off I read all the books and all the reports and I knew that no one had ever won it less than 20 years from when they started breeding and I set myself a target of 20 years but it took me 21 years to get it.

"The Engleheart Cup has been going since 1912. It's the breeder's cup and it's for 12 distinct varieties of daffodil. There were four entires this year and that's about the same every year because there's not a lot of people breeding daffodils, it's not a very popular past time," Brian laughed.

Daffodil breeding is a very intricate process and it can take years to see the resulting flowers after initial pollination and by cross-pollinating Brian can create many different types of daffodil.

"From the pollinating stage I will not see the resulting flowers for five years. It takes five years from pollinating to a flowering size bulb," explained Brian, who first became involved with daffodil breeding after a chance encounter with an old friend.

"With every cross-pollination that I make, I like to think that I'm doing it with a purpose. I used to write down why I was doing it. You're either trying to improve the stem, improve the pose or improve the consistency. Nothing is perfect but you're constantly trying to improve them."

The local daffodil breeder, has exhibited and won many awards all over the country and in America, and has managed to create exquisite varieties of flowers which will soon be available on the global market as he has just arrived home from Holland where some of his creations are being grown.

"Guys came over from Holland and they bought some stocks and they will bulk them up. Yesterday and the day before we were looking at the ones they have bulked up and we were taking samples to measure them for registration with the RHS so I'm back with 21 forms to register names for him," said Brian.

"It was lovely to see the great expanse of something that started off as a wee seed and now there's thousands of bulbs which is nice. It makes it worthwhile apart from the pleasure of showing. Brian is continuing to grow daffodils and is hoping in the near future to compile a book about his love of travelling to Europe to photograph wild species of daffodils.

"I'm hoping to do a book on the wild species of daffodils," he said. "I go to Spain a lot to study and photograph the wild daffodils. I have taken 21 trips to Spain and I love seeing them in their natural habitat and they come in all sizes from standard sized daffodils to little ones."

In the meantime, Brian will be busy in the coming weeks preparing for Omagh Gardening Society's 55th Annual Daffodil and Spring Flower Show which takes place at St Columba's Hall, Omagh, on Saturday, May 6, where his prize-winning exhibits will be on display.

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