Royal imposter

daf king alfred

Think of a yellow trumpet daffodil and the chances are that you will think of ‘King Alfred’. After all it is one of the most popular daffodils of all – everyone has it – yes?

Well, actually no. In the bulb trade the name is knowingly used incorrectly because everyone wants ‘King Alfred’ but no nurseries grow it anymore. So if you buy a pack or order ‘King Alfred’, except from a really good specialist nursery (and that does not include most that produce a catalogue that flops out of your Sunday paper, you will get another yellow trumpet daff.

It happens to the best of us. At Dublin Botanics they have a bed of ‘King Alfred’ and they are anything but. Just look at those frills round the edge of the trumpet. There is just no way a daffodil bred in the 19th century (before 1899) would look this frilly!

It was bred by John Kendall and got an RHS First Class Certificate in 1899. It should have large flowers with a perianth almost 100mm across and twisted perianth segments. The trumpet is a slightly deeper shade of yellow and the mouth is widely flared and notched but not frilled. It is an early variety and usually 70cm tall in bloom and has distinctly blue-grey leaves. It is thought to be named because of the thousand years after the death of Alfred the Great (who died in 899).

So, I am afraid, you probably don’t have royalty in your garden but probably a commoner imposter!





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