VOLCANO — One small town in Amador County equals one big attraction.
A feast for the eyes, a vista that rivals the golden glow of spring’s sunshine. It’s called Daffodil Hill.
This treasured place in the small village of Volcano is aptly named. The seven-acre hillside (seven acres out of the 540-acre Daffodil Hill ranch) is home to not just hundreds of daffodils but literally hundreds of thousands of the springtime bloomers. All planted lovingly by hand by the now-multi-generational members of the family of Arthur and Lizzie McLaughlin who started this slice of heaven in the late 1800s. Lizzie, family members happily share, loved daffodils and started it all by dividing and replanting the bulbs around their Sierra Nevada foothills property every spring. It’s a tradition that has since been continued to this day through six generations by the McLaughlins’ great-grandchildren who are now the current owners of the property.
“We plant between 12,000 and 17,000 bulbs annually,” said a smiling Teresa Ryan who is married to one of the three McLaughlin grandchildren, Martin Ryan who is Amador County’s Sheriff.
The other brothers are Michael and George, the latter an attorney in the neighbor city of Jackson.
All members the close-knit families that include wives, children and grandchildren, plus some of their close friends actively support this annual springtime family tradition.
Everyone is involved not just during the days when Daffodil Hill is open to visitors but in the fall when they plant more bulbs.
“This is what happens when you marry into the family,” smiled Teresa Ryan who kept busy during the 2017 spring season walking around assisting visitors who needed help or just to answer their questions. Other family members and friends were busy in the other parts of the seven-acre spread, with some manning the gift shop near the entrance.
Everyone’s help is welcome given the fact this biggest attraction in Amador County in the spring, and perhaps throughout the year, attracts big crowds everyday it’s open.
“We have thousands of visitors every day especially on weekends,” that is, every day “as the weather permits, qualified Teresa Ryan who, like the other family members working, was wearing Daffodil Hill’s trademark “uniform” — a yellow shirt emblazoned with the garden park’s embroidered name.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come from all over California — with some coming from Nevada — to get a glimpse of the delicate living golden carpet.
Some of the friends of Daffodil Hill are service clubs and organizations such as the Soroptimist International of the area which came out last year to serve barbecued and other picnic fare to sell food for those who wanted to eat lunch in the middle of a garden spectacle.
on Mother Nature
Unlike most annual events, Daffodil Hill days are not set in stone when it comes to its opening day, or even the days when it is open and how long the gates are open to visitors. That’s because the delicate bulbs depend on Mother Nature for their blooming season. Bloom season goes by the old adage, “as unpredictable as the weather.”
Last year, it was the rains — so welcome after years of drought in the Golden State — that was the main unpredictable element.
This year, it’s the rains and the snow.
“We just can’t seem to catch a break!” was the statement posted by the family on the Daffodil Hill’s Facebook page on Friday.
“Due to ongoing snow and rainfall we are still unable to open and will not be open for Dandelion Days. ?? We will be sure to post updates as we can, but at this point it doesn’t look like we will be able to open for a while,” the announcement added.
“We cannot open in poor weather and it typically takes 2-3 days after rain for our walking paths to dry out.”
Because of the unpredictability of Mother Nature, those who plan on visiting the place are encouraged to check out the Daffodil Hill Facebook page for the latest updates, or to call ahead of time so as not to waste any precious minutes getting there only to find the gate closed.
The drive to Volcano is quite a distance from Jackson, but you can feast your eyes on plenty of countryside and hillside vistas along the way.
The weekends are the busiest days, so plan to arrive early or later in the afternoon to avoid the expected crowds. Better still, if you can, time your visit on a weekday when there are fewer visitors.