REPLY2: 'KING ALFRED' daffodil -- was Pacific BX 89
Tue, 17 May 2005 19:38:31 PDT
Jim, et al ~

> Whether or not the true King Alfred still exists in commerce is a question 
> I
> have often pondered. What is certain, however, is that King Alfred was
> illustrated in various publications early in the twentieth century.
> 'King Alfred' is old enough to have received an FCC in 1899 according to
> Calvert (I don't know how to reconcile that date with what follows). 
> According to Calvert "It was in 1901 that raisers had the shock of their
> lives when the little known Mr. Kendall put King Alfred before the R.H.S.
> Narcissus Committee." Calvert goes on to say that Kendall had raised a stock
> of 'King Alfred' before showing it, and that one hundred bulbs were reputed
> to have changed hands that first year. I can't cite an example, but I
> wouldn't be surprised if confusion about the true 'King Alfred' began
> shortly afterward - if only because demand was so great right from the
> start.

I sent your comments on to a friend of mine, a respected grower of daffodils 
and an authority in his own right, for his reply.  He has a strong interest in 
history, in particular as it applies to daffodils, and has a considerably 
library to do the research.  What follows are his comments on your original 
message which I thought would be of wider interest since the King Alfred issue has 
had a lengthy run recently!

"King Alfred did receive a FCC from the RHS on March 22nd 1899, this cannot 
be disputed.   It is clearly in the Register for 1899, also in Bourne's 
marvellous book of 1903 stating the month, March 22, and the year 1899 when the award 
was made.      It also states clearly in Calvert's book, FCC-RHS 1899, on 
each black and white plate of King Alfred No. 24 and 25.
As for the suggestion that King Alfred may have been muddled from the start, 
this is simply unbelievable as too many important raisers of the day grew and 
bred with this variety, namely Engleheart, Brodie of Brodie, Guy L. Wilson, 
N.Y. Lower, P.D. Williams and W.F.M. Copeland whose photo of five blooms was 
printed in Bourne's book opposite page 42.   This photo is a very clear black and 
white print of what true King Alfred should appear like, and it would have 
been taken pre 1903.   King Alfred would be the ancestor, in many cases several 
times over, of practically every exhibition yellow trumpet in existance today.
In an excellent article by Peter R. Barr, VMH, titled "The Renaissance of the 
Daffodil in Britain" printed in the RHS Daffodil Year Book 1933 (No. 4) page 
29.  Writing on Engleheart's daffodils, he states:  "Of more recent years, his 
Maximus seedlings are coming to the front, but I do not think they will oust 
King Alfred, that wonderful golden trumpet Daffodil raised by John Kendall, 
and which his sons in 1900 offered at 6 pounds 6 shillings a bulb."    

(and on page 32, same article)  

"I must not omit to refer to Mr John Kendall, a solicitor, who raised the 
finest and most popular yellow trumpet daffodil we know to-day, namely, King 
Alfred, said to be a cross between Maximus and Emperor.   Unfortunately Mr. 
Kendall, who died in 1890, did not live to see it bloom."

As for the confusion you state that exists with the Calvert description, what 
can one say?  It seems to be in genuine conflict with the facts.  I would 
trust the reply before I did Calvert who was a nurseryman, first off, and 
published the book much as a catalog as treatise on daffodils.  As far as I know, he 
was not a skilled daffodil grower/breeder as were the others quoted in the 
reply, in particular, Engleheart, Wilson and The Brodie.

There you are.  I should well imagine the shock the august members of the RHS 
Committee must have experienced in seeing the ghost of the late Mr. Kendall 
appear before them in that meeting some eleven years after his death!

Incidentally, stock of the true 'King Alfred' still exists.  I have a few 
bulbs of it as an historical curiosity, the blooms from which I will sometimes 
exhibit just for people to see the real thing.

Dave Karnstedt

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