Daffodils to last all spring long
With a little bit of planning you can have daffs in flower from January until May
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