It’s a chill wind

Yesterday was a cold but bright day but we are bracing for a few days of snow and frost. I don’t think we will get too much here by the look of the forecast but you never know. We have been snow-free so far this winter so a little will be a novelty – a lot will be a nuisance. It was a day to get the camera out though and, of course the battery was flat so it was a last-minute rush. But the lowering sun was actually lovely and picked out the narcissus ‘Mary Poppins’ and miniature trumpet ‘Ice Baby’ nicely. I seem to have a penchant for planting things together that have the same flower colour – I must snap out of it – but at least they don’t clash.

I am worried what the cold might do to the plum blossom but I did see some bumblebees on the flowers so maybe some will survive the cold and get fertilised.

I hope she had been busy because she was having a rest when I saw her.

The blossom is so nice that I couldn’t resist using it as background for some other daffs I had picked.

Among these are Tête-à-tête’ and ‘Cyclataz’. Of course, Tête-à-tête’ is common, and deservedly so, and probably the most-grown daffodil in the world. In contrast, ‘Cyclataz’ is something of a rarity. But they are connected. ‘Cyclataz’ was raised by Alfred Tait, in Portugal in (or before) 1922. It is a very wide cross between N. cyclamineus and the tazetta narcissus ‘Soleil d’Or’. The latter has yellow tepals and a short, orange cup and is often grown for indoor use. Like most tazettas, it is not the most hardy of plants. ‘Cyclataz’ is a short plant that carries bunches of two or three small flowers with yellow tepals and soft orange cup. (below right)

It would not be an important plant if it were not for the fact that Alec Gray, who specialised in miniature daffs, found a pod on ‘Cyclataz’ and it contained three seeds. Of these, three seedlings flowered and they were all grown on and introduced; ‘Quince’, ‘Jumblie’ and Tête-à-tête’. All are still available but Tête-à-tête’ is the one that everyone grows. It is amazing that this all happened as long ago as 1949 – it takes a while for new bulbs to make a commercial impact. More remarkably, it has only been used for breeding twice, but that may be because of the strange chromosomes because of its parentage. There are are now two double forms which are sometimes said to be seedlings but I doubt that and they must surely be sports.

I always assumed that Tête-à-tête’ referred to the two flowers that are produced per stem on strong bulbs but according to a source I recently read, it is a pun on the raiser of ‘Cyclataz’ – Alfred Tait. Not sure about that.

Anyway, the hellebores are looking good so I had to pick some and give them some limelight for no particular reason.

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5 Comments on “It’s a chill wind”

  1. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    March 8, 2023 at 8:20 am #

    a wonderful Spring collection!

  2. Paddy Tobin
    March 8, 2023 at 9:44 am #

    ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is here is good number and worth its place in the garden for being so reliable and tidy a plant. I also have the double form ‘Tete Boucle’? which is equally as reliable a performer. The miniature daffodils are becoming especially popular and Alec Gray’s ‘Candlepower’ is very sought after – one I haven’t grown yet. Sourcing bulbs of this one is a challenge with restrictions on imports from the UK. One day! ‘Mite’ is one I like very much, a cyclamineus cultivar.

    • thebikinggardener
      March 8, 2023 at 10:48 am #

      Candlepower is a cutie and is listed by Esker Farm in the north (so we can get it) but I see they are sold out till next spring – it was in the catalogue I got recently so it is obviously in demand! Even at £5 a bulb! Yes, I have ‘Tete Boucle’ and it seems to be as easy as ‘mum’. I agree that the miniatures have a special appeal and most seem to have vigour contrary to their size. I am sure that much of the interest in miniatures is down to Tete which encourages people to diversify and, of course, they fit better into pots and smaller gardens.

      • Paddy Tobin
        March 8, 2023 at 11:13 am #

        Yes, I spotted it on the Esker Farm catalogue but was too slow to order….next year!

  3. Meriel in Wicklow
    March 11, 2023 at 1:45 pm #

    Lovely collection of hellebores.

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