Helen Link's amazing daffodil gardens will not be open for the 2020 season, but you can still see images from this beautiful springtime attraction below. We hope you enjoy this virtual photo tour of one of our favorite seasonal events in Morgan County.
Typically, the gardens are open each weekend in April, which is normally the peak time for daffodil blooms. No worries if peak comes a bit earlier than usual - there are so may varieties planted here that there are always some in bloom throughout the month!
From the parking area near the observatory, visitors walk a short path to enter the daffodil gardens. The path, shown above, is relatively flat and easy to walk. It can be traversed by wheelchairs and strollers as well, making this a relatively accessible activity for most visitors.
Once you reach the gardens, you'll see that these cheerful flowers delight visitors of all ages. We've encountered everyone from children to bicyclist to motorcyclists visiting these beautiful gardens in April.
The gardens are always a lovely place for a stroll, but photographers love to visit the space as well. Photography enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels visit the garden each year. Whether you're interested in taking photos of nature or of each other, the gardens provide a beautiful background.
If you explore to the far side of the garden (don't worry, there are signs to let you know where the boundary is), you'll find that the daffodils aren't the only springtime beauty you'll discover at Link Observatory. These gorgeous flowering trees are also in bloom each year when we visit to see the daffodils.
So, what's the story behind this amazing garden?
Many people know the story of amateur astronomer Dr. Goethe Link and how his amazing personal observatory came to be here in Morgan County, but there's another notable scientist who worked from the site, nestled among the hills between Martinsville and Mooresville. Her name was Helen Link, the wife of Dr. Link, and she was, among other things, a botanist. One day in the 1940's, Dr. Link gifted his wife Helen with a bushel basket of ordinary, everyday daffodil bulbs.
Helen's love of the cheerful flowers blossomed on the grounds of their home and observatory - literally! Helen planted thousands of daffodils at the site, in naturalized gardens. Over the years, she began to experiment, eventually developing many of her own unique hybrids. There are more than a dozen registered cultivars developed by Mrs. Link, including Towhee (winner of a national best-of-show), Lucy Jane (named for a stepdaughter), Tutu (a flaring, all-white variety)and Rainbow (a pink-cupped variety).
Originally educated as a registered nurse, Helen returned to school at the age of 60 to study botany so she could learn as much as possible about her beloved flowers. She became a world renowned expert in exhibiting, judging and hybridizing daffodils. She won many blue ribbons in competition and was awarded the highest honor, the Gold Medal, by the American Daffodil Society, an organization she eventually served for a time as vice president.
Helen's daffodil gardens are maintained by the Indiana Daffodil Society, which occasionally sells bulbs that have been culled from the site. Proceeds are used to fund scholarships for students in subjects like biology, botany, landscape architecture or horticulture.
Thanks to the Indiana Daffodil Society, the Morgan County Master Gardeners, and the Indiana Astronomical Society, visitors are typically welcomed to explore the naturalized gardens on the observatory grounds on weekends during the month of April. Unfortunately, this year the gardens will remained closed, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but we hope you've enjoyed the images shared in this post of this unique Morgan County seasonal attraction. We encourage you to plan ahead for a future visit.
No matter how many varieties of daffodils there were planted on the rolling hills of the Links' property, Helen Link was adamant about her favorite among the blossoms... "the first one that blooms!" We have to agree that's usually the most exciting one to see!
PLAN A VISIT FOR NEXT YEAR:
If you choose to visit the site in the future, be aware that parking is limited. Park in the gravel lot next to the observatory building, then walk the short distance to the gardens. Representatives from the Indiana Daffodil Society and the Morgan County Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about the naturalized flower gardens.
Representatives from the Indiana Astronomical Society will be on site inside the Observatory to answer any questions you may have about that facility. Typically, the observatory is open for public viewing on the first Saturday of each month, beginning near dusk.
Plan to check out one of Morgan County's tasty eateries while you're in the area! Several Morgan County restaurants are featured on the Indiana Foodways Alliance statewide food trails, so if you're looking for something specific, you might start with this list. In addition, you won't want to miss out on a chance to visit the Martinsville Candy Kitchen. This iconic candy and ice cream shop is celebrating more than 100 years in business on the downtown square in Martinsville.