Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It's daffodil time!

One of the first signs of Autumn isn't the changing colour of the leaves but the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centres and the dull thud of the catalogues landing on the doormat.

Daffodils, or Narcissus if we want to be technical, are one of the first of the bulbs to be planted for they start to send out their roots early in the season as we discover when we dig them up by mistake when weeding. Like all bulbs, they need to be planted in generous quantities to look their best. The photo above shows several hundred lining the old lime avenue of the house I described in an earlier blog ( 21st August 2009: The House my Parents Built 200 Years Ago). This is a mix of similar looking daffodils, which open at slightly different times, chosen to extend the flowering period.
I am not keen on double varieties - they tend to be top heavy and spend most of their time prostrate. However, I find the Orchid flowering types don't do this and are quite fascinating to look at. The one above is Dolly Mollinger, the one below Chanterelle.

Bicolours can also be tricky to my biased eye. I don't like Scarlet O'Hara (below top), so vulgar in the border! But Jetfire, which is a similar colour combination works well in this wilder setting and is beautifully enhanced by the white bark of the Jacqmontii birch tree (below bottom).

Scent is all important in any flower and in narcissus it is especially welcome after the bleak winter months. Few scented winter flowers have the freshness of the smell of a vase full of Cheerfulness - a stonger coloured version is Laurens Koster.

But perhaps the best daffodils of all are the 'bog standard' yellow ones. That's what spring is all about. (Although to be honest, I don't totally agree with that statement - my favourites are the miniatures but I don't have any photographs! I will have to take some next March and persuade you all then......)

13 comments:

  1. Hey, that dull thud is music to my ears. Unfortunately, we do not get as many bulb catalogues in Canada, as you do in England. But, spring bulbs, are my fav, they have to be my number one favourite flower. I don't know if it is the long, long, long winters that Canada has. They just make me happy, even happier then beer (and that is saying alot)!

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  2. I agree about the doubles. Your photos make me hope that winter is short. Wonderful photos.

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  3. They do look best in big drifts like you first picture. I wish I had so much space to plant them in. I also like the old stand by all yellows. The strange thing is I can never get them to bloom, only foliage. I'll just have to admire everyone else's.

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  4. I have to agree with you on the yellow/orange bicolors but I do love a white/yellow or white/orange -- my all time favorite being Actinae. No wait....maybe it's Salome. Oh, nevermind.

    The doubles seem more like wadded up crepe-paper, so I only have a few (the one you show is one of them).

    Yes, long drifts are fabulous. One of my beds is filled with Mt. Hood, Thalia, Actinae, and Ice Follies. Planting in and around the bulbs can be quite tricky.

    Like you, I'm loving the miniatures. One of my faves is Tete A Tete.

    I sure did enjoy this post!
    Lynn
    http://woodridge.wordpress.com

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  5. beautiful daffodils. i too dont like the double ones. My favorite is paper white as it is the only one suitable to our climate.

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  6. Many thanks to you all for your comments. It's really interesting getting posts from all around the world and comparing notes - keep them coming!

    Lynn - I've grown all the ones you've listed and very nearly included a photo of Salome, then changed my mind.

    Catherine - is it just yours that don't flower or is it to do with your climate? If they are growing in grass, I give mine a feed of Autumn lawn feed (no weedkiller included!) immediately after the flowers have died. That seems to keep themflowering well.

    Muhammad - Paperwhite is a favourite variety here as Christmas indoor plants. They rarely do well in the garden because of the cold, damp winters here. They are good, 'though in winter pots outdoors, flowering about November/December and then the bulbs are normally thrown away.

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  7. All the years I lived in East Africa one of the things I missed was daffodils. Now I've been back in Ireland some years I know why God made daffodils yellow- what other flower in the year is so cheerful and welcomed as daffodils after a long grey winter?

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  8. Daffodils are one of the few bulbs we can plant at our elevation that the elk and deer usually leave alone. After our long snowy winters they are sure a welcome sight. Beautiful pictures Johnson. :)

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  9. I've become a daffodil fan since I moved to a place that has soil (from central Texas to north Louisiana). Daffodils grow very well here and to me, one of the most beautiful ones around here are the little jonquils called "Louisiana Sweeties" (I think). They grow wild along the highways. I hope to find some to plant in the near future.

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  10. Jeannie, I too have found that animals tend not to go for daffodils. I've grown them in paddocks where flocks of sheep and lambs graze without harm to either - apart from when the sheep lie on them!

    Louisiana Sweeties sound great, Jean. I wonder if they are the same as 'our' wild jonquils although these aren't native to the UK. We do have native ones but they are of the larger trumpet type and quite rare. I know one area of woodland where they carpet the floor and they look fabulous. I'll have to try and get a phot one day.

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  11. I saw the post "It's Daffodil Time" and thought, "I'm DEFINITELY moving to England!".....alas, you have the same seasons as we do in Atlanta.....just time now for the planting.....

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  12. Lol Tim, I suppose the title was a little misleading - but at least it brought you to the blog! It will soon be tulip time on here but that will be all about planting bulbs and the varieties too! Johnson

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