Daffodils. There can be few flowers which conjure up such an instant, well-defined image: cheery ranks of bright yellow knee-high flowers in mid-April. For many people that’s where the story ends, but for anyone who’s interested enough in gardening to be reading this blog, there’s a whole other world out there.
Pale yellow is the colour of our native wild daffodil, but in gardens we can find everything from pure white through ivory, cream and lemon to rich egg-yolk colours and even pinks and greens. This year I’m trying the rather suave-looking ‘Sinopel’ which has white outer petals and a green centre (corona). Split-corona daffodils like the one pictured divide gardeners – not everyone likes their dramatic over-the-top nature and kitsch character. I’m impressed by the breeders’ craft, but not sure how I’d combine them with other plants. Any suggestions welcome!
One thing many gardeners forget is that lots of daffodils are scented. Fragrance is especially prevalent amongst types with lots of small flowers on one stem, such as ‘Minnow’. ‘Sinopel’ is scented too, so I’ll be cutting some for indoors, I love cut flowers at any time of year, but in spring I find them especially valuable in lifting my spirits when it’s cold and damp and I’m itching to get out into the garden but can’t because of the bad weather.
If you can’t wait till spring for your daffodils, then cheat. There’s still time to get an indoor variety, the tender, elegant ‘Paperwhite’ to bloom for Christmas. These gloriously-scented plants are easy to grow – just pot them up into ordinary compost, put them in a bright sunny room and give them moderate watering. Push 18in (45cm) lengths of coloured florists’ twigs or twisted willow into the compost to provide support for the flowers.
You can even grow paperwhites in tall glass jars with a shallow layer of pebbles in the bottom. Rest the bulbs on top of the gravel and add enough water so the bulbs are just touching it. They’ll be up and away in no time, giving you a sneaky bit of spring to liven up the shortest days of the year.
Click here for the full range of daffodils from Spalding Plant & Bulb Co.