Daffs are settling in

It is difficult to believe but some of the daffodils are flowering for their fourth spring in the garden. I did not do a lot of major work in the garden while we were completing the house-building but a few things were planted. A few trees, some hedges and some daffodils were planted that first autumn while more daffs have been added each autumn since. The southern edge of one long border was planted with some ancient daffodils in autumn 2020 and these have now begun to bloom for the second season.

These are really old daffs and some of my favourites. Although I love modern dafodils for their size and colours there is something very serene and delightful about the old hybrids with their small and delicate blooms. The earliest to bloom, so far, has been ‘Barri Conspicuus’ (or ‘Conspicuus’). This is an old English variety bred before 1869. All these oldies were planted about 20cm apart, the bulbs split if they were ‘mother bulbs’ so they could be left undisturbed for as long as possible.

I broke one of my basic rules when planting the daffs down the drive. I always think that small, yellow daffodils look best in grass and that very ‘fancy’ varieties are not good for naturalising. So it was a bit odd of me to choose pink and white daffs to grow in the grass. But I did avoid doubles and did choose five or six varieties and not a random mix. The result has been OK. Some varieties have done much better than others and ‘Skype’ (below) with its slightly recurved tepals (2013, Karel van der Veek) has settled in really well. I confess that the whole display would be a lot more showy if these were all yellow and the white and pink is a bit subtle.

Subtle is not something you could say about ‘Ferris Wheel’. This huge flower opens almost pure yellow but as the flower matures the trumpet becomes more orange. It also starts to widen and enlarge. Together with some fragrance it makes it a lovely garden variety.

‘Slice of Life’ has similar colouring but is a miniature split-corona. The plant is delicate and the flowers are small. The corona is split but it is so flat that you would hardly notice. It is vigorous and a real gem and, in its third year, it is looking better and better. I should note that all these daffodils are allowed to die down naturally after flowering and are not lifted.

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8 Comments on “Daffs are settling in”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    March 27, 2022 at 10:23 am #

    There seems to be a renewed interest in the older varieties of daffodil, heritage daffodils as they might be described.

    On a separate note: do you know of a good source of apple trees suited for/ or already begun training as espaliers? Any recommendations for varieties?

  2. Mitzy Bricker
    March 27, 2022 at 11:39 am #

    They are lovely. I wonder, do you cut the leaves after they have died down?

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia bluerockhorses.com

    • thebikinggardener
      March 27, 2022 at 11:51 am #

      Absolutely NOT! After flowering, the leaves must be allowed to develop so they can feed the bulbs for next year. They can be fed before, during and just after flowering but there is no point leaving it till they are dying down. Let the foliage develop but you can snap off the old flowers and seed pods (only). You then MUST let the leaves develop and grow for at least six weeks after the flowers fade. Do not tie them into knots or tie string, wool or ribbon round them. After at least six weeks you can then trim off the foliage but the longer you leave it the better.

  3. Katherine
    March 27, 2022 at 12:21 pm #

    If I were to transplant bulbs from one location to another when is the best time to do that? There are some bulbs at my great grandmothers old home place
    I would like to transplant (of the smaller old variety).

    The next county over from us is having a Daffodil Festival next weekend, it’s lovely. These are some of my favorite sunny springtime flowers.

    • thebikinggardener
      March 27, 2022 at 12:59 pm #

      In theory, the best time is when they are fully dormant. But, when in the ground, they form roots surprisingly early in autumn and they are also hard to find. So the best time is probably just as the leaves start to go yellow. you can see where they are and, because the roots will be starting to die anyway and the bulbs will have plumped up, they will move well without a hiccup. Good luck with saving the daffs and enjoy the festival next weekend.

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