GARDEN GURU: Believe it or not this is the time to be planning for spring. There will be a plethora of spring bulbs in the shops over the next few weeks and it’s tempting to have a bit of everything. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I thought I would talk through the front runners and some lesser known options over the next few weeks starting with that great classic – the daffodil. Choose your bulbs now for planting at the end of the month or in October. Just to clear up a common question – narcissi and daffodils are the same thing!
Daffodils are some of the most reliable spring bulbs, coping well with wet ground and competition from grass. Many species also flower through frost, and with such a huge range of daffodils available, it’s often hard to know which varieties to plant. There are hundreds of daffodil varieties to choose from, but when it comes to looking through the bulb catalogues, what matters is flowering time. Some daffodils flower months ahead of others so, by combining early and late varieties, you can have daffodils in bloom from January to May. There’s a wide variety of different coloured types to choose from, including acid-yellow, ivory, white and even pink. And whether you prefer the natural look or the more flamboyant, there are types from traditional golden beacons to doubles that almost look like peonies.
Here are ten of the best from www.gardenersworld.com
Narcissus ‘Jetfire’ is a bold March-April flowering variety has clear golden petals with a contrasting orange trumpet. It grows to 35cm so is perfect for growing in the border for a splash of bright colour.
‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’
If planted in a sheltered, south-facing spot,Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ will be in flower by Christmas. While most daffodils in bloom at this time of year are usually small, this variety has large, windmill-style flowers and reaches 35cm in height.
Clusters of cup-and-saucer flowers top the pencil-length stems of Narcissus ‘Minnow’ in March and April. It’s a great little daffodil for growing in pots or the front of a border. It has a very sweet fragrance and clumps up rapidly. Prefers full sun.
Named ‘Spring bulb of the year 2011’,Narcissus ‘February Gold’ has perfectly proportioned little flowers, with swept-back golden petals. It grows up to 30cm tall and its blooms last for weeks during March and April. Perfect for growing in pots or at the front of a border.
The traditional yellow trumpet blooms of long-flowering ‘Spellbinder’ gradually fade to white. It’s a tall variety – 50cm – suited to the back of a border. Flowers in March and April.
If you want a classic daff with bright, golden trumpets and a delicate scent, then Narcissus‘Dutch Master’ is for you. It’s perfect for Easter vases, growing 45cm tall and flowering in April. Plant in drifts to break up an expanse of lawn, or at the base of a hedge.
Double-flowered daffodils aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ is lovely. It has a deep, rich yellow colour and a sweet scent to match. Flowering in April, it reaches 40cm in height, so is ideal for the middle of a border.
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus(pheasant’s eye)
Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus is a beautiful little daffodil with a sweet, citrusy scent. At 40cm, it’s tall enough to naturalise in lawns. It’s a late-flowering daffodil, appearing in mid-late April.
Narcissus ‘Hawera’ is a small daffodil that only grows to 18cm, it packs a punch with a strong, musky scent in late-April to May. Pale yellow flowers emerge from grassy stems and leaves, and its petals curve back, giving it a shuttlecock look. Ideal for containers.
‘Jack Snipe’ is a pretty white-and-yellow daffodil, with fragrant blooms. It flowers from April and grows to 25cm. Grow in large clumps at the front of borders or naturalised in your lawn.