Daf­fodils to last all spring long

With a lit­tle bit of plan­ning you can have daffs in flower from Jan­uary un­til May

Garden News (UK) - - Contents -

Last month, with un­prece­dented tem­per­a­tures around 30C (86F) and the ground too parched to plant any­thing, I was tied up in the of­fice work­ing on plant­ing plans for two new projects where the head gar­den­ers want to use daf­fodils that will daz­zle vis­i­tors next spring. The cri­te­ria for both projects in­cluded a range of colour, fra­grance, spread of flow­er­ing time and height.

Be­fore de­cid­ing on the va­ri­eties, I con­firmed that both sites had a welldrained, mois­ture-re­ten­tive soil. Daf­fodils don’t like be­ing too dry and cer­tainly don’t like to have their roots con­stantly in wa­ter. Al­though on a field scale we grow in wide, open fields, for a longer-last­ing dis­play in the gar­den a bit of dap­pled shade is a good thing.One of the first va­ri­eties to go on the list was ‘Ri­jn­veld’s Early Sen­sa­tion’. This very early, all yel­low va­ri­ety often flow­ers in Jan­uary and de­spite the pos­si­bil­ity of rough weather, is well able to cope as it only grows to about 30cm (1ft). To fol­low this, I’ve opted for ‘Jet­fire’, an­other dwarf va­ri­ety that’s al­ways on my list of favourite va­ri­eties. At 30cm (1ft) tall, the deep red cup stands out from the re­flexed pe­tals, mak­ing a strong state­ment in the bor­der or even a con­tainer. On a good day it also has a slight scent.

A good strong yel­low must be next on the list and for this I’d choose ‘Saint Kev­erne’. As the name sug­gests, bred by a Cor­nish hy­bridiser this va­ri­ety has been around for a long time, which is tes­ta­ment to its har­di­ness. Slightly taller at 45cm (1½ft) it’s also good for the vil­lage show and ideal for nat­u­ral­is­ing.

A new yel­low I’m try­ing in both of my plant­ing schemes is ‘Amico’. This all-yel­low, mid-season va­ri­ety, flow­er­ing at 50cm (1¾ft) is un­usual in be­ing a ‘nor­mal’ flower that’s strongly scented.

So far there’s not much colour vari­a­tion, but this is partly due to the fact most of the early-flow­er­ing va­ri­eties are yel­low. To in­ject a bit of colour I’m sug­gest­ing ‘Gos­samer’. A mid-season va­ri­ety that flow­ers at 50cm (1¾ft). The white pe­tals frame a small cup that’s yel­low with a pink rim and it’s cer­tainly one of my favourites. To get a

late white I’m go­ing for ‘Dream Cas­tle’ Cas­tle’, with white pe­tals and a cream cup that soon turns to white. At 60cm (2ft) it might be a bit tall for open plan gar­dens but is well able to cope be­cause of its strong stems. Many gar­den­ers don’t like dou­bles but pro­vid­ing they’re planted in an open po­si­tion where they can get plenty of light they shouldn’t be a prob­lem. Two I rec­om­mend are ‘Rip van Win­kle’ and ‘An­dro­cles’. ‘An­dro­cles’ ‘Rip van Win­kle’ was reg­is­tered pre-1884 but is still pop­u­lar to­day. As an early va­ri­ety it’s ideal for ex­posed sites as it only grows to 30cm (1ft) and is very hardy. ‘An­dro­cles’, on the other hand, is a fairly new va­ri­ety, having been reg­is­tered in 1978. Late mid-season flow­er­ing at 45cm (1½ft), it has an ex­cel­lent pedi­gree and will ap­pear for many years. Fi­nally, you can’t beat the quintessen­tial cot­tage gar­den va­ri­ety, ‘Pheas­ant’s Eye’. This late-flow­er­ing, scented va­ri­ety is the per­fect end to a five­month daf­fodil flow­er­ing season.

A new one, ‘Amico’ is also slightly scented

I wouldn’t be without ‘Jet­fire’ in any plant­ing dis­play

‘Pheas­ant’s Eye’ rounds off the daf­fodil season in style

‘Ri­jn­veld’s Early Sen­sa­tion’ lives up to its name, be­ing one of the first daf­fodils to flower Dou­bles aren’t for every­one, but if you like them, try ‘Rip van Win­kle’ – an oldie but a goodie

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