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Daffodils

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Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers.  To me they are the true herald of spring.  They flower at a time when on certain days it is just warm enough to sit outside and enjoy their fragrance.  However, it’s surprising that a lot of people don’t realise that many daffodils are scented, let alone realise the vast array of colours and forms daffodils now come in.

I went to Eskdale recently and took my camera as I knew there are lots of wild daffodils there just waiting to be photographed.  The wild daffodil native to the UK is quite small and holds it’s head in a nodding position (below).

 

Wild Daffodil - Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Wild Daffodil – Narcissus pseudonarcissus

 

 

 

The photos I’ve used to illustrate this post are from my own daffodil collection.

Daffodil bulbs don’t like to dry out completely during summer, but if you have heavy wet soil the bulbs may rot over winter. I find the best way to plant them is to choose a sunny site, then dig soil conditioner into the soil around the bulbs and add a layer of gravel mixed with the soil underneath them. This way you are adding both nutrients and drainage and your bulbs will have the best start.

 

 

The planting depth should be 6 inches to the base of the bulb for large daffodils and 4-5 inches for smaller bulbs. This is to prevent the bulbs and buds drying out over the summer and autumn which can cause daffodil ‘blindness’ (production of flowers but no leaves).  Aim to plant your daffodils in September/October, about 15-20cm apart for large bulbs.

 

 

By removing the leaves, you remove the ability of the plant to produce enough food to create next year’s show. After they flower, daffodil leaves should be left to die down naturally and only then removed. ‘Plaiting’ or knotting the leaves has the same effect as removing the leaves.

 

Each year or so, daffodil bulbs which have flowered divide into smaller bulbs which take time to come to maturity. You may plant daffodil bulbs one year which flower well, and the next year you may have no flowers because the bulbs have ‘split’. It is best, therefore, to plant daffodils two years in a row to make sure they don’t all reach the same ‘splitting’ stage of their lifecycle at once. Daffodil bulbs may become congested, in which case lift and divide clumps after flowering, remembering to replant deeply.

 

 

Daffodils give their best display in full sun. Feed with a high potash fertiliser every couple of weeks after the daffodils finish flowering, which encourages the bulbs to put on a fine display next year. Tomato feed is suitable. Avoid high-nitrogen feeds which may cause lush leafy growth but less flowers. Deadhead regularly so that your daffodils’ energies do not go in to seed production.

 

 

An interesting website you may want to take a look at is www.daffseek.org where you can search a database of hundreds of daffodil varities and learn about their parentage and offspring.

Also see the book ‘Daffodil’ by Noel Kingsbury which traces the history of these beauties.

 

 

Well, I count 30 photos and I’m sure I’ve got a couple more varieties hanging around the garden that I perhaps haven’t taken photos of yet.  And there are so many more for me to collect!

 

 

If you want to see the extent of my addiction, below is a photo of some of the varieties I have.  Well, there are worse things to spend your money on!

 

Daffodil Display

Daffodil Display

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