Laurel Ridge Daffodils

For one month each spring, there is a little piece of yellow heaven in the hills of Litchfield County. On ten acres of rolling fields and woodlands, hundreds of thousands of daffodils are in bloom, giving those that visit a wondrous sight to see. In the 1940s, a forward thinking couple began planting daffodils in the hilly countryside of Northfield, just outside the town of Litchfield. These bulbs have multiplied and naturalized over the years and now visitors are treated to a wonderful display once spring arrives. The peak bloom time is governed by mother nature, but is usually mid to late April, and can run into May.  Plan to visit early in the month to see how many are in bloom, and determine from that when the rest will be opening up. No matter when you visit during April and early May, you should have something to photograph. The peak bloom is just breathtaking, though, so if you have just one chance to visit, try to make it in the middle of the month. You will see more types of daffodils than you could imagine, and all on one vast hillside!

You are welcomed by fields of daffodils that can be seen from the road. But don't stop there: walk through the fields, along the stone walls, along the pond for the many photographic opportunities.

You are welcomed by fields of daffodils that can be seen from the road. But don’t stop there: walk through the fields, along the stone walls, along the pond for the many photographic opportunities.

What to Photograph

How can you resist taking landscapes filled with daffodils? Or of fields full of yellow, white, and orange surrounded by stone walls, dotted with oddly shaped trees, and even a large pond with two flower-filled islands in the background. There are numerous opportunities to be creative here if you love landscape photography.  Some of the trees are ancient and interesting to shoot, since they are surrounded by blooms. Across the road from the daffodils, there is a small pond bordered by a wooden fence with a few magnolia trees along the driveway that might be in bloom, if you time it right. This is private property, however, so be respectful and stay on the roadside to photograph here.

Also on the opposite side of the road, just a little way down the road,  the daffodils continue through the woods, and are more sparsely planted. This is also a good spot to explore, since you find the daffodils mixed in with woodland ferns and moss, and get another view of the magnolia trees from the side. From this perspective, tucked away from the road, there is also a nice view of a couple of bright red barns surrounded by forsythia and magnolia. This makes a colorful image  if you time it when the trees are in bloom.

Opposite the daffodil fields is another wooded area to walk through. At the back of that is a good view of these red buildings surrounded by colorful blooms.

Opposite the daffodil fields is another wooded area to walk through. At the back of that is a good view of these red buildings surrounded by colorful blooms.

And of course, if your passion is close-up photography, you can’t find a better place to experiment. The ground might be wet since it is spring, so take something to kneel on if you want to get down close to the flowers. Be aware that the wind will make the daffodils dance so it’s best to come very early in the day before the wind picks up.

The white poeticus daffodil with a tiny cup faces skyward.

The white poeticus daffodil with a tiny cup faces skyward.

When to go

April through early May is the best time to see the daffodils in bloom. The season begins with yellow early bloomers, and finishes up with more of the white varieties. Check the website http://www.daffodilfestivals.com/insidetemp.php?festid=1421  for dates of the Walk Among the Daffodil festival each year. Since it is a hilly area, you will find that there will be good light at both sunrise and sunset, at least somewhere on the hillsides.  Be aware that this is a very popular place and there can be many visitors at peak times. I find the early morning to be the best time of day to visit to avoid the sight-seers.

A shallow depth-of-field puts the emphasis on the daffodils in the foreground.

A shallow depth-of-field puts the emphasis on the daffodils in the foreground.

Tips and Techniques

If you are taking close-ups, you’ll be down low on the ground. You might remember to take something to lie or kneel on, especially if the ground is damp in the early morning or after a rain.

Try using a long lens, with a shallow depth of field to get in close to the flower while blurring the background. Experiment with different apertures to get a feel for the effect that has on the depth-of-field.  Of course, a macro lens is another must for close-ups, but with the shallow depth of field, it’s more difficult to get the entire daffodil in focus.

Take along a diffuser to soften bright sunlight on a sunny day. And remember to use a deflector to reflect light back onto the flower if it is heavily backlit.

Painters love to capture the short-lived spring color almost as much as photographers do!

Painters love to capture the short-lived spring color almost as much as photographers do!

Laurel Ridge Foundation

Laurel Ridge Foundation
Wigwam Rd, off Route 254
Northfield, CT 06759
Phone: 800-663-1273 (Northwest Connecticut Visitors Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Website:  http://www.daffodilfestivals.com/insidetemp.php?festid=1421

GPS coordinates: 41.68803, -73.139034 (N41° 41.2818′, W073° 8.342′)

Parking is available only along the narrow country road. Try to pull off the road as much as possible for safety. Remember that this is private land that is open for visitors only during daffodil season.

Also, no pets are allowed on the property, and while it might be tempting, no picnics are allowed.

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One Response to Laurel Ridge Daffodils

  1. Patrice says:

    Some really interesting info, well written and loosely user pleasant.

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