…is exactly what is required in this strangely elongated winter which seems disinclined to leave centre stage and allow Spring to float in from the wings. If the sun is slow to shine, then splashes of optimistic daffodil yellow under shrubs, at the foot of trees and wandering in grassy areas is a perfect antidote to all the steely grey skies and splutters of snow we are still getting.
In my garden only the little tete a tetes are currently making a showing, planted every year after a bowl of forced narcissi have gone over indoors. They are slowly naturalising under some hazels, and are always the first to get going. Only a few inches high, but harbingers of such hope!
As much as I love a vase of traditional yellow daffs in my kitchen, and love their jolly exuberance outside, the display I am really waiting for is the white and cream coloured narcissi that I have slowly planted over the last five years, now in swathes just big enough to cut jugfuls for the house with out lamenting the loss in the garden.
The five varieties that have proved fantastic growers in the garden and also gorgeous cut flowers, scented and longish lasting, are narcissi ‘Silver Chimes’, narcissi ‘Acteae’,(and similar looking ‘Pheasant’s Eye’), narcissi ‘Geranium’, narcissi ‘Thalia’ and a lovely pale double form but I am not sure of its name – perhaps “Cheerfulness’ – can anyone help identify?
Of these, ‘Thalia’ is the truest white, ‘Silver chimes’ is cream with a soft yellow centre, (and quite bright yellow when very first in bud), ‘Acteae’ has that delightful combination of clean ivory petals and red-ringed trumpet and ‘Geranium’ is creamy white with a soft orange frilly trumpet. The double variety is all soft creams and apricot.
All of them provide low maintenance, fresh looking loveliness in the garden and in the vase, I wouldn’t be without them for early Spring cheer. All they require is deep enough planting, deadheading and leaving the leaves to die back naturally without snipping off or tying in knots.
I pick mine early in the morning and let them drain of their slimy sap in a bucket of deep, lukewarm water. I think they look perfect massed informally in a plain white china or enamel jug. If you do mix them with other Spring flowers, make sure they have drained of that gluey sap as it can be toxic to other cut flowers and shorten their vase life.
If you haven’t grown them already, give the flaxen headed daffs a go, they are elegant in such a simple, unfussy way, and they multiply and naturalise year on year. Perfection.
You can purchase Narcissi bulbs for planting in autumn from Sarah Raven towards the end of June – subscribe to our email updates to find out when they’re available, and also to receive special offers.
Thanks for reading!