white marigolds - Knowledgebase Question

Urbana, IL
Avatar for adenning
Question by adenning
March 3, 1998
Hi! My mom says that when she was young, her father told her that the Burpee company offered a big money prize ($10,000?) If someone could develop a white marigold.
They're available from you now, so someone must have done it. Is that true about the prize, and if so, when did the white marigold become available?

Answer from NGA
March 3, 1998
In 1954 David Burpee turned an experimental project into a promotion. He offered $10,000 to the first gardener who could provide seed for a white marigold, something that did not exist at the time. A pale lemon was the closest. During the next 20 years, more than 80,000 people sent in seeds, some received $100 for "good tries". In 1975 the $10,000 prize was finally awarded to Alice Vonk, the widow of an Iowa farmer. By that time Burpee had come the closest to white with 'Snowbird' but, a panel of six horticultural professors reviewed the six top submissions and decided that Mrs. Vonk's deserved the prize.

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