Markham Hill Moment of History                                                       2019-09-30

Mrs. Markham’s Daffodils

by Lisa Orton

Community Radio show
aired on KPSQ 97.3 FM:

Did you know that Mrs. Markham's daffodils were famous? Several local articles from the 1940s through the 1960s explain why. Both Pratt sisters were active in garden clubs. Joy Pratt Markham was a member of the Year ‘Round Garden Club and Evangeline Pratt Archer was a member of the Fayetteville Garden Club.

In the Northwest Arkansas Times, March 10, 1944 article entitled 'Daffodils by Thousands':

Joy Pratt Markham is a grower of flowers. Hilltop camp on Pratt Heights is now abloom with thousands of daffodils. Some of these have been sent to and received in perfect condition in New York, Connecticut, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois and other distant states. When the freeze came the other day Mrs. Markham saved her blossoms by cutting the frozen blooms, putting the stems in cold water in the shade until all ice was thawed out.

In her letter to the Editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, on March 19, 1952, Mrs. Markham writes:

Years ago, a friend gave us three clumps of daffodils, one of the early single yellow ones, one of the double ones that come just as the single ones are leaving, and one of the paper white or Poet’s Narcissus, that come later. Now we have “millions” of them.

Each year when we could, we have divided them, and replanted them in the yard, in the woods, by the pool, and along the bridle path. This year the first one bloomed on January 20. Now, after seven weeks, these are about gone, and the double ones are blooming. Each day I have gone out and gathered armloads of them, and each next day there would be as many more. We shall have them for several weeks yet.

Without them, spring would be less than spring to me. Never having heard a name for them, I have named the early yellow daffodils the Miss Willie Deanne, after the friend who gave them to me.

These early daffodils give the most for the least care of any flower that I know. They store up in their bulbs the warmth of the autumn sun, and before the sun is fully able to warm us himself again, they give it back to us in their blooms. They do not mind the cold. I have often gathered them from underneath deep snow or when they were stiff with ice.

Anyone in this locality could grow them. Fayetteville could be made to glow with them. In June, when it is time to dig them, I could give a clump of them to anyone who would come with a shovel and basket, and perhaps a shovel-full of earth to fill up the hole from which the bulbs were dug. I could give the simple instructions for their planting and care.

I should like to do this, for then, in a few years, when I came to town, they would be there to welcome me, and they would be a welcoming sight to other visitors to Fayetteville.

Joy Pratt Markham

Excerpts from the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, March 28, 1953’s article entitled 'Year ‘Round Club Makes Garden Tour':

Twenty members were present for a meeting of the Year ‘Round Garden Club, held Thursday at the home of Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham. A dessert luncheon was served, after which there was a tour of Mrs. Markham’s daffodil garden. The dining table was decorated with a large bouquet of yellow-centered white daffodils. The yellow and white motif was also carried out in the refreshments of ice cream and cake.  Mrs. Bragg reported on the meeting of the Twin-City Zone Garden Club, at Fort Smith. Miss Lenora Johnson talked on daffodils shown at the flower show in Siloam Springs, Sunday and Mrs. Markham explained the various daffodils, displaying 18 varieties.

Excerpts from the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, June 12, 1961’s article entitled 'Members of Garden Club Help to Beautify Our City':

Members of Year ‘Round Garden Club and their husbands met Saturday morning at the home of Mrs. Joy Pratt Markham to dig bulbs from her extensive daffodil garden to be planted in strategic areas over the city as part of the city beautification program. A buffet brunch was served and the arrangement on the table featured crown lilies in a brass container.

Excerpts from the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas, April 16, 1968’s section of the newspaper called 'Northwest Arkansas Times for Women' under subsection 'Garden Club Meetings':

The Year ‘Round Garden Club met Thursday at the home of Mrs. Joy Markham, with Mrs. Herbert Chandler as co-hostess. The Markham home was decorated with an abundance of jonquils of all varieties. Mrs. A. L. Casper, president of the City Council of Garden Clubs, announced that the state Daffodil Society will hold its spring show in Fayetteville next year. Mrs. Walter Jolly and Mrs. C. B. Wiggans were appointed on a committee to help set up plans for landscaping the Headquarters House. It was announced that “Cleanup Week” will be held beginning May 22, and members of the club will take each section of the city to remind property owners to beautify their premises. For the program, Mrs. Markham gave the “History of the Dogwood” and said that a dogwood tree in her yard is the largest on record in the world. She also gave a report on conservation.

Mrs. Markham's Daffodils (Click to enlarge.)