Narcissus is one most popular flowers in the world. A spring-flowering bulb, Narcissus is the name of a genus which includes flower bulbs like Daffodils, Jonquils, Paper whites and so forth. Narcissus bulbs are very easy to grow and require very little maintenance. It can grow almost anywhere, although it prefers well-drained soils with a sunny or light shade environment. Narcissus should be planted from August to November, the earlier the better, for flowering in spring.
"When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze." So wrote William Wordsworth on seeing (almost certainly) our native Narcissus pseudonarcissus growing "high oer vales and hills".
The link between the plant and its Latin name is unexplained; one Greek legend tells that Narcissus pined away for love of Echo, whom he had previously ignored, and was subsequently changed into a flower. There is no proof that the flower we know as Narcissus was that flower but its bright beauty mirrors that of the exquisite youth as rendered by painters, sculptors and writers over the centuries.
Pictured: Narcissus Ice Follies has a large saucer-shaped crown, which opens as pale lemon but soon turns to a dazzling white. It is ideal for naturalising in long grass or beneath trees.
The origin of the plants common name, daffodil, is equally unclear but it is a mid-16th-century word believed to derive from the late Middle English word affodill, which in turn is a variant of the Greek genera asphodelos, an everlasting flower that was said to grow in the Elysian fields.
Pictured: Narcissus Jetfire, ideal for planting in groups in a rockery.
Whatever the origins of its names, the genus, a member of the Amaryllidaceae family, is divided by size and flower shape into 13 divisions and there are over 3,000 varieties to suit every garden situation.
Pictured: Narcissus High Society is a beautifully proportioned flower with a pink-rimmed white cup which turns to yellow. Plant within a box parterre or alongside a yew hedge.
When buying, and before planting, check that the bulb is free of mould and mildew, and that it is firm to feel. Bulbs can be planted between September and December, but benefit from going in earlier rather than later so that the ground is still warm enough to give them a head start. Mix a little bone meal into the planting hole, together with the soil and compost. Plant each bulb to a depth four times its size, with the top facing upwards.
Pictured: Narcissus Golden Harvest, a lovely old-fashioned trumpet daffodil which will light up a dark corner at the back of a wall bed.
If planting in pots, keep the compost moist while the bulbs germinate. Once planted, wrap the pots in bubble wrap and cover with chicken wire to prevent squirrels from digging the bulbs up; remove the wire as the buds and foliage begin to push through.
Pictured: Narcissus Glenfarclas, which grows to as much as 50cm/20in and would be a wonderful spring statement planted in pots near the house.
When choosing where to plant narcissi, think ahead; you will need to leave the leaves to die down after the bulbs have flowered so plant them where you can leave them for at least six weeks without becoming too much of an eyesore.
Pictured: Narcissus 'St Patrick's Day' can be used to create a field of gold at the end of your garden. It is a long-lasting bulb and is at its best in March.
- Antony Woodland Garden, Torpoint, Cornwall, 01752 812364
- Brodie Castle, Nairn, Morayshire, 0844 493 2156
- Erddig, Wrexham, Clwyd, 01938 355314
- Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, 01246 850430
- Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent, 01732 865224
- RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, 0845 260 9000
- Rydal Mount, Ambleside, Lake District, 01539 433002
Pictured: Narcissus Replete is a double daffodil with a wonderfully ruffled pink trumpet. It makes a dazzling cut flower, but can also be naturalised in grass.
- Avon Bulbs, 01460 242177
- Bloms Bulbs, 01234 709099
- de Jager, 01622 840229
- Kevock Garden Plants, 0131 454 0660
- J Parkers, 0161 848 1100
- Pottertons Nursery, 01472 851714
- R A Scamp, Quality Daffodils, 01326 317959
Pictured: Narcissus Jersey Torch is a hardy daffodil, suitable for planting to provide early interest in the herbaceous border or for naturalising in woodland.
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