Daffodils Brighten Julian

Daffodils Brighten Julian

Since 1990, Julian has hosted an event that has blossomed throughout the years — the Julian Daffodil Show.

Sally Snipes, a well-known local gardener, saw an opportunity to help beautify the flowerbeds at Julian Town Hall. Her father, who helped ‘“make life more beautiful’” by planting and watering trees around Dana Point, had passed away that year, so she decided to honor his memory with a simple gesture.

She placed an article in a local publication asking for 10 individuals to buy a bushel ofdaffodils so she could plant them in those ugly flowerbeds.

“The crazy thing that happened — and I know my dad is still smiling about this — is that $6,000 came into my mailbox in the next month," she said. This also included donations from folks simply interested in the project itself.

With enough money to buy dozens of bushels, she sought friends, Girl Scouts and children from Julian Elementary School to help her beautify the town. Teachers embraced the idea and allowed Snipes to lead groups of little helpers to plant the bulbs around town. 

“About an hour of planting is what you can expect from kids before they get squirrely,” Snipes said.

They share the responsibility of digging and then placing the bulbs, and after a quick inspection from Snipes, they are covered and ready to grow.

Since the project’s beginning, it has averaged 65 to 75 bushels every year. Local businesses, which benefit from the beautification, regularly purchase bulbs to show their support.

In 2004, after hearing so much about the daffodils in Julian, Jay Pengra of La Canada Flintridge encouraged Snipes to organize a show. Doing so, he said, would be an opportunity to educate the public about “what an amazing family the narcissus are.”

The show began in humble fashion, with one table outside of a local coffee shop. As attendance grew year after year, Snipes approached the Julian Chamber of Commerce for permission to move the show to town hall — and they agreed.

Though Pengra passed away a few years back, Snipes remembers him for his humor, energy and love of daffodils, crediting him for the suggestion of offering a ‘“bulb of the year’“ award.

Between 800 and 1,100 blooms are shown each year, brought in by local gardeners of all ages. About 50 children enter every year and, she says, “We give participation ribbons to every one of them to avoid tears. The main purpose is to encourage future growers.”

A few months before the annual event, set for March 22 and 23, 2019, teachers encourage students to create daffodil art, which is put on display during the show.

There’s no question that locals have fallen in love with the festive flowers, which continue blooming year after year once they’re planted. The wildlife generally leaves them alone, Snipes says, but she and others frequently have to educate the public to recognize that the ‘“weeds’” are actually daffodils.

“Many children nowadays don’t get the opportunity to get their hands dirty,” she said. “The Earth needs more plant lovers. Maybe this is a way to encourage gardeners and future American Daffodil Society members.”

By Charlene Pulsonetti
Photo by Carol Kinney