pacific daffodils

By Pauline Masson

Pacific Missourian

Cherry blossoms may herald spring in the nation’s capital, but in eastern Franklin County clumps, patches and hillsides of daffodils tell us the season has changed.

For the next few weeks motorists on North Thornton Road will be treated to a splash of yellow and white blooms that stretches the length of the entrance road at Haue Valley Farm.

This is the birthplace of the vast daffodil population in the Pacific area.

The snug valley was once the home of the late John Howe, famed horticulturist, who lived here from 1894 until his death in 1970. His collection of international trees and plants brought visitors from far and wide.

His favorite plant was the narcissus, popularly known as the daffodil, which he cultivated and sold as bulbs or handed out as bouquets to frequent visitors.

Howe collected more than the 300 varieties of bulbs that were sold from his front porch. To help customers find their favorite variety, he kept horticulture catalogs with color pictures for them to page through.

Beginning in 1930, for many years Howe carried bushel baskets of bulbs to Shaw Nature Reserve and asked that they be planted.

Each spring Shaw Nature Reserves recognizes Howe, reporting that it may have a million blooming daffodils on display, scions of Howe’s gifts.

Today Howe’s niece, Edith Howe McLaren, her son, Bill McLaren, and his family plant new bulbs to keep Howe’s legacy alive.

McLaren and his daughter, Kristin Binford, operate a country wedding.