Mr R. M. Percy at the Hynish bulb farm in the 1950s
Postcard of the Hynish bulb farm in the 1950s.
Courtesy of Mrs Mary MacKinnon
In the early 1950s the West of Scotland Agricultural College’s horticultural adviser R. M. Percy suggested an experiment in bulb-growing to Walter Hume of Hynish. The experiment showed that the light sandy soils of Tiree were well suited to growing daffodil, tulip, narcissus and hyacinth bulbs.
Encouraged by this success, a number of crofters formed a Hebridean bulb-growers association and launched into bulb-growing as a commercial enterprise, supplying mainland hot-house growers with bulbs for forcing. Initially the economic prospects looked good as the yield per acre was high.
However, the bulbs were decimated by diseases and ravaged by pheasants, mice and slugs. Reinvigorating spent bulbs took longer than expected and markets became more difficult to find. Nowadays the only reminders of the bulb experiment are patches of daffodils growing wild in the fields.
Black and white postcard of the bulb fields at Hynish.
Postcard of the bulb fields at Hynish.