It is easy to be complacent when planting daffodils: some of the well-established favourites are so good that you wonder why bother trying anything else. When I am giving advice it is really difficult to recommend anything other than ‘Tête-à-tête’ as a good dwarf daff for grass, ‘Carlton’ as the standard tall yellow. ‘Ice Follies’ as a good pale daff and ‘Jetfire’ for a bit of variety. ‘Jetfire’ is a vigorous cyclamineus daffodil with a long, orange trumpet and swept-back yellow petals. It is slender and elegant – everything you would want from a cyclamineus daffodil. In recent years I have noticed that some commercial stocks are virused but this is such a strong variety that it continues to grow well even with streaky leaves and blooms.
‘Jetfire’ was introduced in 1966 and was raised by Grant Mitsch of Oregon, the home of many popular daffodils. ‘Carlton’, the standard golden daffodil, though strictly not a trumpet but a large-cupped, was registered in 1927 and ‘Tête-à-tête’ in 1949. All three are exceptional and readily available.
Every year, dozens of new daffodils are introduced, many from keen amateurs, others from big commercial nurseries, and few make it beyond a few specialist growers. Only those that have some good selling point, increase rapidly for the nurseries, are resistant to disease and get promotion ever have a chance of being put in a coloured pack in a garden centre. And the name is important too – which makes it amazing that ‘Tête-à-tête’ has become the most common daffodil of all – I can never type it without checking all the accents at least once!
Among the new daffs in the garden this year I am welcoming ‘Maria’, a cyclamineus daffodil that resembles ‘Jetfire’ – at least in theory. It has a yellow, reflexed perianth and a bright orange trumpet. But ‘Maria’ is Beyonce to ‘Jetfire’s Shakira.
It may be because it is the first season for the bulbs but ‘Maria’ is very short, the flowers opening at barely 12cm high. This accentuates the broad, fullness of the flowers and makes ‘Jetfire’ look scrawny. The flowers are being nibbled by slugs, they are so near the soil. But there are secondary buds emerging to extend the display and it is not unusual for daffodil stems to extend as the flowers age – just look at ‘Tête-à-tête’. It was registered in 2017 and raised by Rinus van der Salm in The Netherlands. It is interesting that it has already been used by Brian Duncan in Northern Ireland to produce seedlings which suggests that it is a great plant. I am liking it a lot so far and am looking forward to its display this year and in the future. It deserves to be popular and would be a fabulous plant for pots and window boxes as well as in the garden.
Also new to me this year is ‘Love You More’. I am not sure it is officially registered but it is new (bearing in mind how long it takes for a seedling to reach commercial availability) and was raised and is being sold by Carlos van der Veek of Fluwel. It is a thick-textured, large-cupped daffodil with pure white flowers (the photo was taken on the first day of opening so looks greener and creamier than it is now) and the stocky foliage is a blue-green. She is standing up well to the current gales and is a sturdy thing and definitely an asset in the garden. Rather morbidly, it is planted beside where I buried the last cat, but the new cat has not dug them up in a fit of jealousy!
Both these are available from Fluwel, as long as you are in the EU.