Daffodils at Cotehele

Daffodils and a garden bench at Cotehele, Cornwall

This article is about the festival last year in 2020. For information on what's open at Cotehele this year please visit our website. Spring is a beautiful time to explore Cotehele as the garden and countryside fill with sunny daffodils from February to May.

A long flowering season

The daffodils at Cotehele give a real character to the place at this time of year. From mid-February they start to emerge and continue to flower right through into May, with different varieties taking centre stage at different times. 

You'll see the daffodils flowering all over the estate, but particularly across from the Barn Restaurant, in the meadow behind the house and in the old orchard. These areas start to change colour from the silvery/blue of the daffodil foliage to sunny yellows and whites as the flowers start to open. 

Daffodils near the Barn Restaurant at Cotehele
Daffodils growing in front of the house at Cotehele, Cornwall
Daffodils near the Barn Restaurant at Cotehele

Market gardens

The daffodils at Cotehele are mainly old varieties, some dating back to 1620. They were important in the market garden history of the Tamar Valley as a cash crop. Many were picked as surplus produce, which then became an international industry. Growers sent them to flower markets as far as Covent Garden in London. 

In the eighteenth century, a boat similar to the Shamrock on Cotehele Quay was used to take the flowers to Plymouth. By the nineteenth century the railway at Calstock was used. The flowers were sent open not like today, when they are sent in tight buds. 

Sunlight catches the golden-yellow petals of late flowering 'Barri Conspicuus' daffodils, a very old hybrid, seen here naturalised in long grass at Wimpole in Cambridgeshire

Discovering daffodils: stories behind our favourite spring flower 

Explore the history and fascinating stories behind our favourite spring flower, the daffodil.