Dallying with Daffodils

To-day I decided to get to grips with my daffodils and their classification (13 divisions) – an ideal occupation for a cold wet day. An assortment of Div 1 (trumpet cultivars), Div 2 (large-cupped  cultivars) and Div 3 (small-cupped cultivars) were already in the garden, when we moved here.  I have not planted more of these large cultivars, but I have acquired a small trumpet cultivar , N.’Bambi’ and the dwarf trumpet, N. nanus ‘Midget’. Both are in flower now.

Some years ago, my good friend from North Carolina, Elise, who is an expert in both dermatology and daffodils, encouraged me to expand my collection. She recommended ‘Bridal Crown’ from Div 4 (double cultivars) as well as the triandrus cultivars (Div 5) -‘Ice Wings’ and, best of all, ‘Hawara’ a truly delightful little triandrus. None are open yet.

I love the cyclamineus cultivars (Div 6) with their delicate shape and swept back petals (perianth). The first to appear are ‘February Gold’, ‘Jetfire’ and ‘Peeping Tom’. ‘Jack Snipe’ , ‘Rapture’ and ‘Jenny’ (very pale milky flowers)  will appear later. Planters of the minature ‘Tete-a-Tete’, a cyclamineus cross, (Div 12 = miscellaneous hybrids)  decorated the church, at our daughter’s wedding 8 years ago. We planted them in the garden and they bring back happy memories each spring, brightening the dullest day. ‘Cornish Chuckles’ (also Div 12)  – what a great name- has still to open.

Jonquilla and apodanthus cultivars (Div 7) include ‘Kokopelli’,  ‘Lanarth’ and ‘Sun Disc’. ‘Minnow’ is an easy dwarf tazetta (Div 8). None are in flower yet.

Division 13 contains daffodil species and wild variants. The Lent lilies (N.pseudonarcissus), planted in 1988, have spread slowly in a strip of “meadow” adjacent to the drive. I also planted the Tenby daffodil (N. obvallaris),  probably a variant of  N.pseudonarcissus, in this grass last year and hope it will  naturalise too. Both are in flower now.

My mother used to grow large numbers of the old fashioned Pheasant’s Eye narcissi (N. poeticus var. recurvus) and I picked generous bunches as a child. I grow them in Upper Green, and look forward to the fragrant flowers in May. Sadly the magical tiny N. cyclamineus (Div 13) and N. bulbocodium (Div 10) prefer more acid soil than I can offer.






Spring in the air

I thoroughly enjoyed the Alpine Garden Society ‘Early Spring Show’ in Harlow, Essex on Saturday 27th February and came home with a basketful of choice (very small) plants, including a number of saxifrages (in flower now, but will they ever flower again?), a wee hummock of a dwarf thyme with tiny leaves (Elfin), Soldanella alpina ‘Alba’ and Polygala calcarea ‘Lillet’ ( an intensely blue milkwort). I spent a couple of delightful hours planting the new acquisitions and now I must just hope they flourish.

Peeping Tom

Daffodils are out in great variety,  including Peeping Tom (with a very long trumpet). The crocuses still look good but the snowdrop season is drawing to a close. The fat snouts of the Crown Imperials (Fritillaria imperialis)  have pushed their way into daylight and some Snakeshead fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) are nearly open.

On mild sunny days, the air is filled with scent from the bushes of sweet box. I have Sarcococca confusa at the back of the house and Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna near the front door. Spring is definitely on its way and soon we must cut down the red and orange stems of the dogwoods- lots to do.