A-Z History of Sumner, Washington - Daffodils
Provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times and the City of Sumner.
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Sumner’s soil and climate combine for ideal bulb-growing conditions. Flowers here bloom many weeks ahead of European varieties. Local growers have long led the industry in the development of production methods. Their floricultural innovations have been matched by Sumner’s pride in their achievements- it’s Daffodil Tea, Bulb Banquet, Daffodil Dinner, campaigns to influence import policy, and Daffodil Festival all have their genesis in the determination of Sumner citizens to maintain the city’s edge in the bulb industry.
The first Daffodil Tea was put on by the wife of Charles Orton at the Charles W. Orton House, 7473 Riverside Road East, in April, 1926. Orton had become one of the largest bulb growers in the Puyallup valley. The tea was a first effort to emphasize the importance of bulb floriculture for the area. The Sumner Chamber of Commerce sponsored the first Bulb Banquet in 1927. With the Orton home’s second Daffodil Tea, the gathering became an annual event.
The annual tea soon gave way to the Daffodil Dinner. Orton invited commanders from Fort Steilacoom and several of Tacoma’s city fathers to the elegant soire and used the occasion to showcase the area’s daffodil harvest. Sumner historians have deemed the Daffodil Dinner a symbol and turning point for Sumner’s bulb industry- the names of individuals attending the first Daffodil Dinner are engraved on a plaque installed in the library of the Ryan House.
Sumner citizens were critical to the success of a movement to embargo bulbs imported from Europe to the East. By protecting their market for daffodils, iris, narcissus, and tulips, they protected their business interests.
Tress recalls that her mother served on the Daffodil Dinner committee, and that later dinners were more egalitarian affairs held in the old gymnasium, with cooking done under the stage.
Information on these pages is provided in part by Daffodil Valley Times Staff and The City of Sumner, Wa.
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