I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I love this poem by William Wordsworth which my mum frequently recited to me whilst I was growing up. Everything has been late to bloom this year. I would normally expect bright yellow daffodils to herald Spring in March, but this year I have had to wait till April in my garden. There is something about brilliant yellow daffodils that really are cheery after the cold and gloom of Winter.
What’s the difference between a daffodil and a narcissus? Nothing! Daffodil is the common name for the genus narcissus. Daffodils come in a huge variety of types, sizes and colours. The mainly yellow or white flowers are comprised of 6 petals surrounding a corona. The Narcissus are classified into 13 divisions according to different flower forms or by botanical name: 1 Trumpet; 2 Large-cupped; 3 Small-cupped; 4 Double; 5 Triandrus; 6 Cyclamineus; 7 Jonquilla; 8 Tazetta; 9 Poeticus; 10 Bulbocodium; 11 Split-corona; 12 and 13 Miscellaneous.
The daffodils immortalised in Wordsworth’s poem are the Trumpet variety (Divison 1). This is what I always refer to as a typical daffodil and I love them for their brash, bold cheery yellow colour. I have had many different types of narcissi in bloom in my garden this month including the Trumpet.
The previous owner planted narcissi poeticus (Divison 9).
These daffodils have small cups in a contrasting colour to their pale petals.
They were one of the first daffodils to be cultivated and are extremely fragrant. They naturalise well in grass. Pheasant’s Eye has a ring of petals in pure white and a short corona of light yellow with a distinct reddish edge. It is this daffodil which is associated with the Greek legend of Narcissus. It is later flowering than the trumpet variety. Mine seem to be a hybrid as they have creamier petals.
The first narcissi to flower in my garden were the lovely minature Tete-a-Tete variety. These beautiful dwarf daffodils are a golden yellow with swept back petals. They don’t fit into a specific category so are put in Division 12 (Miscellaneous). These minature daffs work brilliantly when planted in pots with other Spring flowers.
I am really rather proud of my Paperwhites this year. I bought these bulbs in the Autumn to plant in my front garden. I chose them for their delicate pure white flowers. I am aiming to create a soft, peaceful front garden with flowers in pastel blues, mauves, creams, white and pinks. Although I love cheerful yellow daffodils the bold yellow colour would clash in the front. It works brilliantly in the back garden where I am aiming for a kaleidecope of colour. I failed to notice on the packet that `Paperwhites’ are delicate white flowers. They hail from warm Mediterranean regions and are not normally suited to growing outside in the UK unless in the South and extremely sheltered. I took a gamble and planted them by a wall hoping they would escape the ravishes of frost and snow. My gamble played off and the delicate white blooms have been delightful in their simplicity. Just the effect I wanted!
Paperwhites belong to Division 8 Tazetta narsissi. These have up to 20 small flowers per stem.
My favourite narsissi are my double headed varieties (Division 4). They have double blooms giving a ruffled, frilly appearance without an obvious distinction between cup and petals. They are very girly and feminine! I chose to have Winston Churchill, a creamy double headed flower with orange flecks, in my Bridal Bouquet. The colour worked wonderfully with peaches and cream roses. I can only describe the colour as like thick clotted cream with rich apricot conserve!
The other double narsissi I have planted in the garden is Yellow Cheerfulness, which is soft creamy yellow.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at the amazing variety of daffodils available. I would love to know which ones are your favourite!
I forgot to say what a gorgeous scent they have. I am enjoying picking a few to have in the house whilst enjoying my breakfast. That’s what made me think that `Winston Churchill’ narsissi remind me of the colour of rich Bonne Maman Apricot Conserve and clotted cream. It would be a bit decadent to have clotted cream on my porridge aswell as apricot conserve though!
Painting this wonderful vibrant red bouquet was quite a challenge. My local florist Fabulous Flowers provided me with the image which appeared in Wedding Flowers Magazine. It is a beautiful hand-tied bouquet of `Piano’, `Ruby Red’ and `Black Baccara’ roses together with `Rubicon’ spray roses.
The first thing I do before I get my paintbrush out or start to draw is to study the flowers in the photograph in detail and find out as much information as I can about them. Understanding the general structure of a flower is important. Although I am not a botanical flower painter observing the shape and form of each bloom at the outset pays dividends later. Sometimes I even buy an example of each flower to work from. I have heard it said that `drawing should be 80% looking and 20% moving the pencil’. Whilst studying the bouquet what really struck me was the fabulous variety of reds. I knew that in my painting it would be vital to mix exactly the right colour red for each bloom.
What I like about this bouquet is the strong contrast between the Black Baccara rosesand the other brighter roses. True black coloured roses don’t exist. The closest you can get to black are Black Baccara and Black Magic. Both roses are long stemmed hybrid tea roses. Black Baccara has the darkest coloured roses. While it is not truly black it has a beautiful velvety rich deep-red colour. Black Magic is also a dark red or burgundy colour, but not quite as dark.
With Black Baccara being so dark a brighter red rose in contrast gives more dimension to the bouquet. Piano roses are medium sized, dark red on the outside and lighter red on the inside. They open beautifully into a perfect deep cup similar to peonies in look and are often used to subsitute when peonies are out of season. Ruby Red roses are vibrant red blooms. The Rubicon Spray roses add an extra dimenson of colour with the green foliage of the bud.
To be honest before I painted this bouquet I wasn’t keen on red roses! I would rather be given a bouquet of country garden style flowers or cheerful yellow roses for Valentines day than the traditional deep red rose. I have been pondering why I wasn’t keen on red roses and I think it is the shade of red. I am drawn to cheerful Spring like colours and these are also the colours that suit me. I really don’t like dull burgundy red as it reminds me of school uniforms! However I do like poppy and scarlet red.
The Hidden Meaning behind the Colour of Roses
The red rose is the ultimate symbol of romantic love and enduring passion. Red roses are ancient symbols of love and have long been associated with romance. The poet Robert Burns once wrote “my love is like a red, red Rose, that’s newly sprung in June”.
In Victorian times the yellow rose was a symbol of jealousy. Today yellow represents friendship, joy and caring. A bouquet of sunshine-filled blooms conveys warmth and affection. Maybe that is why I like them so much. In our wedding vows my husband and I promised to care, respect and cherish each other. Yellow roses seem to convey these promises.
The white rose represents purity and innocence. It is often referred to as the Bridal Rose and conveys a sense of new beginnings.
The pink rose is youthful and symbolizes gentility, femininity and elegance. Pink is considered the colour of happiness and is often considered as lighthearted and fun.
The orange rose is fun and flamboyant and radiates warmth and energy.
Orange flowers are often used as a symbol of enthusiasm, endurance and confidence.
The Colour Red
When I was deciding how to paint this image of `Ruby Red’ Bouquet I concluded that the most important aspect to convey was the colour `red’. What makes the bouquet work is the deep dark red of the Baccara roses contrasted against the vivid scarlet roses. The image is all about the colour red. Usually my primary concern is to choose watercolour pigments which are transparent and convey the luminosity of each bloom. This time I decided that it was more important to get the colour right. I was prepared to sacrifice transparency to get the right colour.
I have enjoyed exploring the concept of the colour `red’. There are so many words which can be used to convey a sense of `redness’ – crimson, scarlet, poppy, rust, ruby,maroon and burgundy are just a few. There was an excellent radio programme with Stephen Fry on the language of colour last year – Fry’s English Delight. It explored how we developed words to describe colour. There is an emotional language behind colour. On the programme David Hockney said `We all see colour differently. We see with memory and emotion.’ I definately have an emotional response to the colours used to describe redness. I am drawn to warm red colours – crimson, scarlet and poppy. It is an emotional response. The colours remind me of summer fields of poppies and brilliant sunsets which give me a feeling of warmth and happiness. On the other hand I dislike maroon and burgundy. The words remind me of shabby dull school uniforms! However my emotional response would be different if I thought of rich, deep, luxurious velvet or a fine red wine! To other people `poppy red’ symbolises war and death.
I love exploring colour and the attributes of each of my paint pigments. There are three properties to color. First is hue, which simply means the name we give to a color e.g. red, yellow or blue. The second property of colour is the intensity or saturation. This refers to the strength and vividness of a colour. The red hues in my bouquet image are all very intense and highly saturated. We have a striking scarlet red and a strong intense dark red. Neither colour is dull or grayed. The third property of colour is its value meaning its lightness or darkness. The term shade or tint refer to value changes in colour. Some pigments can be applied very intensely or darkly other pigments will always be pale in colour. Sometimes I convert a painting to monochrome to check if I have the values and correct range of tones.
Another aspect I considered when choosing my red pigments to paint with was whether the hue could be described as warm or cool. Warm reds lean towards orange or yellow. Cool reds lean towards purple or blue. In my bouquet picture we have the warm scarlet reds and the darker cooler reds of the Baccara roses.
I experimented producing colour charts to see which red pigments would work best in my painting.
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Once I had put so much ground work in to finding the right reds for my Ruby Red Bouquet picture the actual painting was a real joy. I can truly say I now appreciate the richness of burgundy red in a way I didn’t before! I hope you like it!