It’s daffodil time!

One of the first signs of Autumn isn’t the changing colour of the leaves but the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centres and the dull thud of the catalogues landing on the doormat.

Daffodils, or Narcissus if we want to be technical, are one of the first of the bulbs to be planted for they start to send out their roots early in the season as we discover when we dig them up by mistake when weeding. Like all bulbs, they need to be planted in generous quantities to look their best. The photo above shows several hundred lining the old lime avenue of the house I described in an earlier blog ( 21st August 2009: The House my Parents Built 200 Years Ago). This is a mix of similar looking daffodils, which open at slightly different times, chosen to extend the flowering period.

I am not keen on double varieties – they tend to be top heavy and spend most of their time prostrate. However, I find the Orchid flowering types don’t do this and are quite fascinating to look at. The one above is Dolly Mollinger, the one below Chanterelle.

Bicolours can also be tricky to my biased eye. I don’t like Scarlet O’Hara (below top), so vulgar in the border! But Jetfire, which is a similar colour combination works well in this wilder setting and is beautifully enhanced by the white bark of the Jacqmontii birch tree (below bottom).

Scent is all important in any flower and in narcissus it is especially welcome after the bleak winter months. Few scented winter flowers have the freshness of the smell of a vase full of Cheerfulness – a stonger coloured version is Laurens Koster.

But perhaps the best daffodils of all are the ‘bog standard’ yellow ones. That’s what spring is all about. (Although to be honest, I don’t totally agree with that statement – my favourites are the miniatures but I don’t have any photographs! I will have to take some next March and persuade you all then……)