Sunday, March 22, 2009
Dreaming of hosts of silver daffodils
For those who love spring flowering bulbs there can be no time of the year more exciting that autumn – not even spring. In spring the flowers may or may not come to fruition, but in the autumn, every bulb holds the potential of beauties as yet unseen, is a perfect vision as yet unrealised.
My letter box, and my e-mail Inbox, are filled with fliers, announcements and catalogues from various bulb growers and importers each autumn, and each year I find myself being tempted by another batch of new varieties.
As much as I love the multitude of ‘other’ bulbs – tulips, irises, crocuses and hyacinths - there is no doubt that the flower we most associate with spring is the (usually) golden wonder, the daffodil. I cannot imagine any garden without a good selection of these charmers.
Pure white kinds look great in the garden, especially if planted alongside darker foliaged plants. My favourite is a slightly smaller variety called ‘Ice Wing’, with reflexing petals and snowy white cup. I have a large clump in a pot – it is fantastic. There are similar types -‘Thalia’ is also fabulous, and the old species N. triandrus ‘Alba’ is a treasure.
I am always a sucker for miniature bulbs, and the dwarf daffodils are no exception. I love the bright little Hoop Daffodils, with their comparatively large cups –usually bright gold but sometimes paler, even white – and their almost non-existent petals. These are very easily grown, and look fabulous in a large terracotta bowl.
Other favourite miniatures which have done well for me include ‘Tete a Tete’, a perfect miniature daffodil with bright yellow flowers, two or three to each head. ‘Jetfire’ is a sunny, bright little bulb with backwards-curving yellow petals and lovely orange-red cups. This has proven a reliable bloomer with us, and also makes good increase.
‘Rise and Shine’ is another pert little scented flower, with backwards curving white petals and small cups. They open slightly orange then fade to yellow. Another great little plant.
Daffodils are the easiest of bulbs. As long as the soil is not too dry –they are pasture plants in the wild – and the site is not shaded (they fade away in the shade), they will stay in the garden and provide colour spring after spring.
As always, we have bought some new varieties this autumn, so I must away and get them planted. And say a little prayer that they will be as pretty as I am now imagining they will be!