|All you have to do is whisper the word, narcissus, and visions of meadows of sunshine yellow flowers come to mind. In today’s world, with critters like deer, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, moles and voles feasting on many of our spring blooming bulbs, the narcissus has become the most popular spring garden flower because most critters avoid these bulbs.
Narcissus is the name given to a vast family of plants. Jonquils are included in that family, and daffodils are a common name for narcissus. Narcissus are part of the Amaryllis family and are native to many parts of our planet, but not North and South America. All of the narcissus grown in the United States were brought here from Europe, the British Isles and the Middle East.
The Latin name, narcissus, was believed to have been derived from the Greek myth about Narcissus. However, Pliny, the Roman naturalist, argued that the name, Narcissus, derives from the term, narkao, meaning to benumb and that it is a reference to the bulbs’ medicinal abilities to cause instant numbness.
It was the Romans who brought winter hardy narcissus varieties to Britain in the early centuries AD. By the 17th century, Europeans had been cultivating daffodils for at least 1000 years, and the first doubles were being developed. The earliest European settlers to the New World brought daffodils with them. As early as 1651, a mere 44 years after the first colonists arrived in Jamestown, large, naturalized meadows of daffodils were described in writing near the town of Gloucester, VA.
This much adored flower has been a part of this country’s horticultural heritage since before the US was founded. Today’s newsletter is going to introduce you to 5 enchanting heirloom varieties that are rarely seen in American gardens: dainty, fragrant with distinctively different blossoms that make them truly unique. Anyone of them or all five will stir the imagination in your spring garden.
Bulbocodium Conspicuus Golden Bells, AKA the Yellow Hoop Petticoat Narcissus, (pictured above) maybe the most uniquely shaped narcissus that you will ever see. The 5 inch tall plants produce 3 to 4 flower stems. Each stem carries a brilliant yellow flower shaped like a funnel emerging from a tiny yellow star-shaped group of petals. The leaves are grass-like and insignificant.
This narcissus is native to Spain, Portugal and southwestern France and was introduced into cultivation around 1629. Bulbocodium conspicuous is a Species Narcissus. These narcissi are the closest varieties we have to the wild narcissi.
It shows best when planted in drifts of 10 bulbs or more. Bulbs should be planted 4-5 inches deep and no more than 4 inches apart. It is an excellent naturalizer and hardy from Hardiness Zones 4-9.
|Albus Plenus Odoratus is another Species Narcissus. It is a very rare, naturally occurring double which was introduced into cultivation in 1861. It is often called the “Double Pheasant’s Eye”.
The blossom has a snow white perianth with a frilled, double pale yellow center edged with red. The plant, itself, reaches a height of 14-16 inches.
Its most splendid characteristic is its incredible fragrance.
Albus Plenus Odoratus is known to be an excellent candidate for forcing.
It shows best when planted in drifts of 10 bulbs or more. Bulbs should be planted 6-8 inches deep and no more than 6 inches apart. It is hardy from Hardiness Zones 4-9.
|Canaliculatis is a lovely, dainty daffodil that reaches a height of no more than 6-8 inches and can be shorter. It is said to be hardy in Zones 8-9, but I grow it in Zone 4 after planting it 6-8 inches deep. Each flower stem can contain up to 7 blossoms.
The blossoms remind me of a bulbocodium hoop petticoat surrounded by large, white petals. Each blossom is no more than 2 inches in diameter. The blossoms produce a sweet scent – nowhere near as strong as Albus Plenus Odoratus.
Canaliculatis was introduced into cultivation in 1915 and has been very popular in England ever since.
It shows best when planted in drifts of 10 bulbs or more. Bulbs should be planted 4-8 inches deep and no more than 3 inches apart.
|Hawera is the only narcissus discussed in this newsletter whose blossom is entirely yellow. The petals are a soft yellow with a round cup that can be slightly paler. Blossom stems may produce as many as 8 flowers. The flowers bloom in succession leaving the impression of a very long-lasting bloom. Plants can reach a height of 12 inches and are hardy from Hardiness Zones 4-9.
Hawera was developed before 1928 by plant developer, Dr. William Thompson, in Hawera, New Zealand. The plant is a cross between N. jonquilla and N. triandus. Its leaves are thin and rush-like.
It shows best when planted in drifts of 10 bulbs or more. Bulbs should be planted 6-8 inches deep and no more than 3 inches apart.
These five narcissus are enchanting garden plants, but they also are exceptional container plants. In containers, plant them densely. Four of the five narcissus can be forced in soil. Bulbocodium does not force well.
Try at least one of these for next spring. They are rare and enchanting and a great addition for any garden.