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!