Paintings of Cornwall’s ‘lost’ daffodils and rare photographs of the women who picked them for market can been seen for the first time at a Falmouth exhibition.

‘Cornwall’s Daffodil Gold Rush’ celebrates the contribution by Percival Dacres Williams (1865 -1935) to the world’s favourite spring flower and is running until March 31.

Known to his contemporaries as ‘P.D’ and Cornwall’s ‘Daffodil King’, he grew more than 500 new daffodil varieties in fields around his home Lanarth, St Keverne on the Lizard.

The exhibition includes items from a treasure trove of his letters, photographs, bulb catalogues, and order books during the 1920s and 1930s when fortunes were made- and lost – in Cornwall, and P.D’s latest new daffodil could fetch £20 a bulb or the equivalent of £914 today.

The daffodils were snapped up by wealthy collectors, bulb merchants from Holland and America and exported worldwide. Some varieties have disappeared without trace but could well be thriving anonymously in Cornwall’s hedgerows and gardens.

Clues to some of these ‘lost’ daffodils can be found in botanical paintings recently discovered at Lanarth, copies of which are in the free exhibition at the Muncipal Buildings, The Moor, until March 31st.

Exhibition organiser Jean Carr explains how a painting dated 4 April 1930 finally revealed the name of one such daffodil. ‘Each spring this daffodil fills the borders of the drive at Ince Castle, Saltash. Their owner Alice Lady Boyd, who has a collection of heritage daffodils, had for years sought the origin and name of this mystery daffodil.

‘Someone suggested it might be one of P.D’s so Lady Boyd took the mystery daffodils to Lanarth in the hope she could find them growing there. It was nowhere to be found in the gardens but a botanical painting retrieved from the attic matched the colour, shape and measurements of her daffodil. The artist Frank Galsworthy had titled it ‘Ozan’ which turned out to be registered by P.D in 1916 and listed in the 1933 RHS Classified List of Daffodil Names, but no longer on sale.

‘It would be wonderful if we could find other lost Cornish daffodils shown in these botanical paintings such as Lendra and Cathillian painted March 23 1935 by E.A. Bowles. I’m hoping someone might come to the exhibition and realise the mystery daffodil they have in their garden could be one painted at P.D’s Lizard home over ninety years ago. If so please bring a photograph or better still a sample to the Falmouth Spring Flower Show on March 24th and 25’.

Cornwall’s Daffodil Gold Rush is open from now to March 31, 10 am to 5pm (closed Sundays) in the foyer of the Municipal Buildings, The Moor, Falmouth, TR11 2RT. Entry free. Call 01326 315559.

Falmouth Spring Flower Show, March 24 & 25, Princess Pavilion, Gyllyngdune Gardens, Falmouth, TR11 4AR. Call 01326 211222, see FSFS Facebook for updates.