Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Yellow Trumpets Spring into Action; the Bobbing Heads of Native Narcissus Is an Iconic Sight in the Countryside, While in Gardens There's a Renaissance in Traditional Cultivars

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Yellow Trumpets Spring into Action; the Bobbing Heads of Native Narcissus Is an Iconic Sight in the Countryside, While in Gardens There's a Renaissance in Traditional Cultivars

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol GARDENS Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

WHICH plant best personifies spring? When I feel optimistic, it is the snowdrop. In a more realistic mood, it's the primrose. But in common with most gardeners, I have to say that daffodils win. They're synonymous with spring.

Nothing announces its onset so categorically. Nothing could be more vivid, more impossible to ignore.

There may be frosts after their arrival but by the time the yellow trumpets start to sound, the wheels of the year have begun to grind inexorably forward.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus is our native daffodil. It is small, strong and stocky. The flowers emerge from a papery spathe, gently turning themselves downwards to protect pollen and to shelter insects inside their deep yellow trumpets. The outer perianth is pale yellow. These are Wordsworth's host, the Lent lily. If I wander out into the field opposite the garden, I am lucky enough to encounter it face to face.

It used to be commonplace in Devon. Not so long ago the dancing yellow flowers could be seen displaying themselves in woodland and along river banks up and down the county.

Close to where we live in North Devon the banks of local rivers are still gilded with hundreds of the small but brilliant yellow flowers. They relish the heavy soil and seem to enjoy the few weeks they spend practically submerged.

No doubt when the water returns to its usual level, it leaves behind all manner of minerals and nutrients. Many bulbs would object but these daffodils have evolved with the constant rise and fall of the water and get better, year-on-year.

In our gardens they and their cultivars can be given equally rich fare, cosseted with compost, mulched with leaf mould, treated with anything to raise the humus level.

The form that does well at Glebe Cottage is Narcissus 'W.P. Milner'.

Its soft milky-lemon colouring (like lemon mousse) fits in with any spring arrangement and though it is an excellent partner, I also love to plant it on its own, perhaps in tall square pots where its dainty scale is emphasised and I can examine each one of its perfect flowers. We can learn a lot about the most effective use of daffodils from studying the way the native plant distributes itself, not in straight lines but randomly in great swathes.

In the woodland area here, all the daffodils are white, mainly a variety called 'Thalia', a triandrus hybrid. Over in the brick garden, where things hot up in the summer, jonquils seem to do well. Some are planted in big plastic pots, lowered into decorative containers (mainly galvanised buckets) but many are planted in the ground among aquilegias and euphorbias. Perhaps the most glowing combination is growing alongside Iris pseudacorus 'Variegata'. Most jonquils have vivid yellow flowers with small cups, fine, rush-like foliage and sweet fragrance. …

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