A host of golden daffodils…

Peter and Lilian Skilbeck enjoying some of their new 2000-plus bulbs, that Peter planted earlier this year, at Plaistow Homestead near Newstead.

Longtime Newstead locals Peter and Lilian Skillbeck have more than 2000 excellent reasons to look on the bright side of life.
Earlier this year, around the time news of COVID-19 was starting to really hit home hard, Peter decided it would be a great idea to purchase a couple of thousand daffodil bulbs.
“The Kyneton Daffodil Festival has bulbs for sale each year,” says Peter who together with Lil enjoys the beautiful garden surrounds of their historic Plaistow homestead at Joyces Creek, just out of Newstead.
“This year I suggested that if they had any left over we might be able to help them out with a bulk purchase. Off the top of my head I said 2000. Then I told Lil,” chuckles Peter.
“Then he had to plant them,” counters Lil.
Indeed he did.
“There’s actually 2150 bulbs,” details Peter.
They include talls, mediums, dwarfs, various jonquils and plenty of classic king alfred trumpet types, plus quite a few rarer narcissus varieties sourced from a speciality plant nursery as well.
“It was a little bit daunting to think of for a while,” Peter recounts of the self-imposed planting task.
“I left the bulbs sitting in their boxes for a while waiting for the energy to plant them to arrive.”
Eventually it must have because by May, Peter says, they were all in the ground waiting for the first whispers of spring.
“In the end it was pretty straightforward,” he says.
Most of them went into a specially prepared new area he’s created at Plaistow, incorporating water features and the sort of ornamental crab apple bushes that are so highly prized by gardeners for their spring flourish.
While the crab apples are still dormant, the daffs have already started coming to the party, putting on a splash of gold with the power to dispense a mood-lift on even the bleakest day during a global pandemic.
With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting the current chill to continue, along with a high likelihood of rain for the area, for much of this week, the “big splashes of colour” are likely to be particularly welcome over the next few days.
“They look good,” Peter says of his gardening rewards.
“My tip is put a label in the ground where you plant them so you don’t dig ’em up when you’re planting something else.”
The Skilbecks are well known for opening up their homestead and garden each year to host an Australia’s Biggest Morning tea event.
And while COVID-19 has placed these sorts of gatherings on hold for now, Lil and Peter say there’s a pretty good chance they’ll get to share their new plantings with the wider community further down the track.