Merle Reuser is a daffodil “freak” as he describes himself. He has become well known in Cloverdale and Santa Rosa for his work since the age of eight of giving away bouquets of daffodils. Margarat Adams, who lived on an old homestead outside of Cloverdale was like a grandmother to him, and he carried bouquets of pioneer daffodils she had picked to town to give away and make people happy.
Over time, cows carried material on their hoofs, birds planted seeds and these daffodils planted by settlers in the 1820s or later spread across her fields. Each clump would grow and divide up to about fifty bulbs and then stop dividing but keep reblooming. Merle found that if he lifted the clumps and pulled the individual bulbs apart, he could replant each one individually (gopher holes and boar rooting made this easy!) and they would double each year. Thus, after four years there would be sixteen daffodils where just one began. His efforts now are focused on landscaping “the last two miles” of a country road in Cloverdale in honor of Margaret Adams. He has plans to rip out broom with a tractor to make the roadside more amenable to hosting the daffodils.
In addition to that project, which he believes will take his remaining years, during the months when he can locate and move them, he digs up and replants the daffodils. He also picks the blooms each spring and gives away bouquets in memory of young people who have died of cancer. Each year he takes the clusters of blooms to their schools and gives them to students.
Merle found me because he had seen an article in The Press Democrate in Santa Rosa and saved it. When he called, he said he had heard that I was called the Daffodil Lady and I replied that I had heard that. He then said, “Well, I’m the Daffodil Man and we have to meet.” He brought up Chris Smith who is a reporter for the Press Democrat and who was unaware of the previous article. We toured my paths and hillside which were full of daffodils in bloom. When Chis’ article came out we had been promoted to the “King and Queen” of daffodils.
Every since, Merle has been leading me to other daffodil venues such as that in Volcano, California, in gold country, called “Daffodil Hill” and which I had always wanted to visit, Ironstone Winery which has a million daffodils planted along the roadside and throughout, up to Cloverdale to see the site of the settler’s daffodils, and to various wild flower areas. He is also correspoinding with the woman who is the most famous of “Daffodil Hilsl”, and who inspired “The Daffodil Principal” which goes round and round on the internet, author unknown. Her name is Gene Bauer and she lives in the hills above and in back of Los Angeles. At eighty-six, she is still going strong, although her property is no longer open to the public.