Fagus Times Daffodils
I really feel Spring has arrived when Narcissus bloom. These jolly, bright flowers brighten up days and certainly lift spirits. With a reputation for cheerfulness, folklore says giving a bunch of daffodils will bring happiness so spread some joy to your friends.
Daffodil or narcissus, what should I call them? Well, both are right. Daffodil is the common name for the Narcissus genus. The name originates from Greek mythology where vain Narcissus was cursed and fell in love with his own reflection. When he died legend says a flower rose from the spot - so this was named ‘Narcissus.’ Another myth suggests the name is derived from the strong scent and the greek word for narcotic: narkō /nɑːrˈkɒtɪk /meaning "I grow numb” (from the scent).
Dainty blooms of ‘dwarf Tête-à-Tête' and ‘Paperwhite’ from forced bulbs grace tables around the country and fill rooms with intoxicating fragrance. These often undervalued trumpets symbolise hope, luck and new beginnings. Indoor blooms love cool, light spots and lots of water. Remove faded flowers to preserve energy and once flowering has finished plant the bulbs in the garden where foliage will die down and remain underground until they bloom next year.
The Narcissus genus is a kaleidoscope of diverse species which have developed from wild and cultivated plants. These insect-pollinated perennials breakdown into 13 main divisions including trumpet, large and small cupped, triandrus, tazetta, jonquils, bulbocium and poeticus. Bulbs naturalise across meadows and marshland and with the right conditions a field can bloom for decades as bulbs divide. As well as being low maintenance bulbs to grow in our gardens, they make excellent, long-blooming cut flowers.
Just be aware all parts of daffodils are toxic to humans and pets if eaten as they contain alkaloids.
I’m sure everyone has their favourite daffodil. Mine hover between the intensely scented white ‘Thalia’ and the late-flowering ‘Pheasant Eye’ Narcissus poeticus with it’s distinctive fringed red centre set around a petit yellow cup.
Immortalised in poetry by William Wordsworth and holding the rather important accolade of being the national flower of Wales, traditionally worn on 1st March, St David’s Day; daffodils really are a plant to be respected and admired.
Article written for Fagus Gardening Club, Fagus Times newsletter for Mary Payne MBE editor and club president.
All photos © Debi Holland 2022