Gardens Illustrated Magazine

17 daffodils continued

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Narcissus ‘Finest Cut’ A colourful, large-cupped 2020 hybrid from Brian Duncan with a deep-yellow, red-rimmed cup and yellow petals. Narcissus ‘Lemon Cocktail’ A striking greenish-yellow trumpet daffodil hybrid from Ringhaddy Daffodils, its seed parent is US-bred N. ’Daydream’ from Oregon-based hybridiser Grant E Mitsch.

Narcissus ‘Whispering Pink’ A very striking show-bench favourite registered by Esker Farm Daffodils in 2020, this eye-catching, large-cupped, salmon-pink cultivar was bred by Brian Duncan. Narcissus ‘Accomplice’ An understate­d hybrid from Brian Duncan, its bloodline includes Tom Bloomer’s N. ‘Woodland Prince’ (1964), itself the offspring of Lionel Richardson’s N. ‘Blarney’ (1935) and Guy Wilson’s N. ‘Sylvia O’ Neill’ (1940). Narcissus ‘Rumpus’ Another fiery-coloured, small-cupped Duncan hybrid, with bright yellow petals and a zingy-orange, thickly ribbed, bowl-shaped cup. Narcissus ‘La Paloma’ The fascinatin­g bloodline of this graceful, small-cupped, green-eyed cultivar from the California­n hybridiser William Roese includes contributi­ons from Co. Waterford-based breeder Lionel Richardson (N. ‘Merlin’) and Tasmanian breeder H Bulman (N. ‘Estrella’). Narcissus ‘Pratincole’ Another great show-bench cultivar from

Brian Duncan, this award-winning, small-cupped 2006 hybrid is known for its lemon-yellow petals and bronze-orange cup.

Narcissus ‘Hope Springs’ This yellow, small-cupped Duncan hybrid is one of several winning results from crosses using his own hybrid N. ‘Moonshadow’ and Clive Postle’s N. ‘Lemma’.

See facing page for number 17

Most daffodils have a hardiness rating of RHS H6, USDA 4a-8b.

the nursery’s large multi-span glasshouse­s, using containerg­rown plants along with pollen collected from parent plants in the bulb fields. The hand-pollinated flowers are immediatel­y covered with small organza bags, then labelled, and the cross carefully recorded. Roughly six weeks later, seed is harvested and either sown immediatel­y or in autumn. Propagatio­n using the technique known as twin scaling is reserved for slow-tobulk-up cultivars, typically miniatures.

In the same way that racehorse breeders select a dam and sire for potential winners, all parent cultivars are carefully evaluated for desirable traits that they might potentiall­y confer, including flower colour, form, size, firmness of petals, vigour and time of flowering. Along with Northern Irish cultivars, the Hardys have reached out to breeders in Britain, the USA, New Zealand and Europe to increase the genetic breeding pool.

Every breeder has their favourites, which makes the art of the skilled hybridiser such an intensely personal one. For the Hardys, it’s the daffodils known as intermedia­tes, which includes Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 11. So far, they’ve registered just two of the cultivars they’ve bred themselves – the largecuppe­d, yellow-and-orange N. ‘Strong Love’ and the very early, yellow-flowered, dwarf N. bulbocodiu­m type ‘Luna Love’ – with a further 130 seedlings identified as promising. But they’re in no rush. “Bringing a distinct variety to the point where you have enough bulbs to list for sale can take up to ten to 12 years,” says Jules. “We want to make sure they’re worthy.”

USEFUL INFORMATIO­N

Address Esker Farm Daffodils, 38 Esker Road, Dromore, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland BT78 3LE.

Tel 07980 634423. Web eskerfarmd­affodils.com

Open Mail order only. Dry daffodil bulbs are normally sent out from September onwards. The flower fields are open to visitors in spring by appointmen­t. See website for details.

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 ?? ?? Narcissus ‘Ice Emerald’ An intriguing, award-winning, small-cupped 2010 hybrid from Nial Watson with pure-white petals and a snow-white, emerald-green eyed cup.
Narcissus ‘Ice Emerald’ An intriguing, award-winning, small-cupped 2010 hybrid from Nial Watson with pure-white petals and a snow-white, emerald-green eyed cup.

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