World famous daffodils

Published 12:36 pm Wednesday, April 28, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- One of the largest daffodil gardens and breeding grounds in the world can be found right here in Niles.
Though Dr. John Reed and his Oakwood Daffodils are not well known to most people in our area, it is a world renowned site among flower enthusiasts.
On Sunday, Oakwood Daffodils, 2330 W. Bertrand Road, will host a daffodil show, put on by the Midwest Region of the American Daffodil Society. The show is open to the public and will take place in Reed's Oakwood Barn from 2:30 to 7 p.m.
This will mark the first time in his 21 years at Oakwood Daffodils that Reed has ever had a public showing of his property.
The 10 acres behind his home are full of rows and rows of daffodils as far as the eye can see with every size, shape and color imaginable.
He has hybridized and grown almost all of his flowers from seed for about 30 years now.
Reed, an osteopathic physician with the Memorial Medical Group in South Bend, Ind., has daffodils from all over the world on his property and through cross hybridizing, he has even created species of the flower that do not exist anywhere else in the world.
The size and scope of Oakwood Daffodils is a major accomplishment considering that Reed is essentially the only caretaker of the thousands of flowers and that Michigan's climate is not ideal for growing daffodils.
According to Reed, most major daffodil growers are found in areas that "don't have the freezing winters that we have here and places that don't have the hot, wet summers that we sometimes get here."
Many of the major growers are found in places like the Pacific Northwest, England, Holland, Austrailia and New Zealand.
He said there are large commercial growers that produce more volume than he does at Oakwood, but no place that breeds the variety of daffodils to the extent that he does. Reed's daffodil operation has come a long way since he first began growing the perennial flowers along the patio of his mobile home in Mishawaka in 1971.
He has been selling daffodils through his Oakwood Daffodils catalog since 1984, but it remains a relatively small sales operation.
For now, he just enjoys the hobby of growing and breeding a variety of daffodils and walks his property to admire the flowers as often as he can.
But, as the quality of his flowers gain more respect and when he gains more free time through retirement, Reed plans to take on the daffodil operation full time.
For more information on this Sunday's daffodil show, call Suzy Wert president of the Indiana Daffodil Society, at (317) 259-0060.