When we bought Gelli Uchaf as a derelict shell (“with potential”), way back in 1993, with no garden at all, the only garden flowers on the whole site were a few ancient double daffodils in the banked hedgerows of our access track…
How could we begin to create a garden in West Wales and not try to grow daffodils, the National flower? But which ones to try, when there are thousands available? We’ve worked towards a selection based on vintage or heritage cultivars, as well as those awarded an AGM (RHS Award of Garden Merit) in an effort to grow ones which survive and flower reasonably well every year. (Recently acquired vintage daffodils being trialled, below)… We grow them in Big Bags, in our retyred matrix garden, and in borders, or naturalised amongst other perennials.
As with my previous observations on snowdrop cultivars, I’ve not found it easy to find many cultivars specifically bred in Wales, (a strange situation, given its National flower status), so the title of this page simply reflects an attempt to showcase some varieties which survive, and bloom fairly reliably in our wet upland Welsh climate. Click here for a link to the current RHS AGM list of cultivars with basic descriptions. There are nearly 30,000 varieties and about 140 described as having an AGM so the choice is huge. However many of the AGM varieties will have been trialled in very different climate, rainfall and soil conditions to those found in our garden. (Narcissus ‘Brunswick’, below, is a very reliable and beautiful daffodil with us.)
The UK grows over 50 % of total world daffodil production, both for dry bulb sales as well as for cut flower production. But many forms don’t thrive with us, dying out or fading away after just the first year. So (beginning in 2015) I’m going to illustrate the ones which we can grow in order of flowering time with us beginning in early February, if we’re lucky, and on into the middle of May. And to make flower comparisons a little easier, I’m showing them all in pairs as they come into flower, in a single blue glass bowl. Even this process is fraught, since recently planted bulbs typically flower a week or 2 earlier than those in the ground for longer. Most are named, some aren’t, having been acquired years before we started to record names. And occasionally more of the same named cultivar arrives 2 years running from the same wholesaler, and looks quite different when the flowers emerge! (Which of Parker’s Bulbs Narcissus ‘Actea’, below is the correct clone? They’re both lovely, but notice the difference in trumpet size and form.)
The lower one we identified subsequently as “Merlin”, which we had never knowingly bought. Armed with this name, we have now added to our numbers of this special daffodil, since it is a very reliable long flowering, later season variety. Several cultivars go through lovely flower colour changes as the flower ages. Because of time, weather (and flower availavility!) issues, I shan’t be able to include these changes initially, but might be able to feature them in years to come. You’ll also notice we’re not very keen on ‘Big All Yellow Jobs’, which we find sit uncomfortably with our relaxed attempts at a ‘natural’ garden style. I’m also keen to see if older varieties bred before commercial fungicides/pesticides became widely used in bulb fields, survive better with us over the long term.
I’ll also list their ‘division’ (a form of classification of daffodils into a dozen groups), their colours of perianth (petals) and trumpet, their relative flowering time and height, and finally a note as to how reliable they are to flower regularly in our upland Welsh garden.
Perhaps this page might encourage more people to explore the huge range of daffodils available, and please accept that as a work in progress, along with our other interests, this page may never look “complete”.
Note: After the extremely mild wet, gloomy winter of 2016, with a late wintry sting in its March tail, most of our early daffodils have begun flowering 2 to 3 weeks earlier than the dates shown below. Some, like Rijnveld’s Early Sensation were 6 weeks earlier. In addition it looks like being a bumper flowering year for many, after a generally disappointing 2015. Probably a response to the high light levels of spring 2015 and damper cooler 2015 summer.
Narcissus ‘Crewena‘ (top – pics below) Div.1 – W-Y – Very early. Tall. Under assessment.
MID MARCH 2015 …
Narcissus ‘Topolino‘ (top – pics below). AGM Div.1 – W-Y, Early. Short, poorer flowering in 2015. (Fourth year). One of the very few prolific seed setters of the daffodils we grow, and has widespread insect appeal. Bumblebees visit regularly.
Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete‘. AGM. Div. 12 – Y-Y. Early. Short. Long term Reliable The most widely grown daffodil in the world. Sterile.
LATE MARCH 2015 …
Narcissus ‘Jetfire’ (top – pics below). AGM . Div 6 – Y-O. Early. Short. Prolific and long term reliably floriferous here, growing in very stony poor conditions. Sterile.
Narcissus ‘Spring Dawn’ (top-pics below). Div.1 – W-Y. Early. Tall Under assessment 2015.
Narcissus obvallaris (Tenby Daffodil). Div.13 – Y-Y. Medium height. Our local species daffodil. Vigorous and clumps up well, in soil or shale so long term survival guaranteed, but very poor flowering in 2015
Narcissus ‘Brunswick’ (top, pics below). Div 1 – W-Y. Early. Very tall, vigorous and one of our most reliable cultivars. Longest lasting flowers of any we grow as well. It even sets a few seed, if allowed.
Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’. Div 2 – W-Y. Later into flower than Brunswick, but still quite early for a white perianth flower. Average height. Vigorous, and reliable in many locations with us increasing and flowering reliably.
‘Narcissus pseudonarcissus subsp. pseudonarcissus’ (top, pics below). Div.13 – W-Y .Short. The early native ‘Lent Lily’. The bulbs are not much bigger than a snowdrop, and the first year after flowering (2014) yielded only 1 flower from 200 bulbs, unlike most daffodils which will flower in the first season. But 2015 saw far more flowers.
‘Narcissus pseudonarcissus subsp. moschatus‘ (top,below). Div.13 – W-W. A variant colour form of the Lent Lily, and a little taller, native to the Pyrenees. Equally early flowering. Under assessment.
FIRST WEEK of APRIL 2015 …
Narcissus ‘Gulliver’ (top, pics below). Div.2 – Y-Y. Tall. Fairly early. A nicely proportioned flower. Under assessment.
Narcissus ‘Hospodar’ ( top, pics below) Div.2 – Y- O. Mid season. Medium height. Colours fade to white/orange as flowers age. Reliable.
Narcissus ‘ Brilliancy’ . Div 2 – Y-O. Early/Mid. Medium height. Under assessment.
Narcissus ‘Colleen Bawn’ Div. 1 – W – W. Short, drooping flowers. Early/mid. Under assessment.
Narcissus ‘Midtown Noble’ Div.1 WY – Y . Early/Mid. Tall. Amazing rich egg yolk yellow trumpet. Long lasting flowers. Under assessment.
Narcissus ‘Madame Plemp’ Div 1 – W – Y. Early/Mid. Medium Height. Under assessment.
Narcissus ‘Southern Gem’ (top pics below).
Narcissus ‘Ice Wings’ AGM.
Narcissus ‘Twink’ (top, pics below)
Narcissus ‘Mrs Langtry’
Narcissus ‘Crenver’ (top, pics below)
Narcissus ‘Biggar Bountiful’
Narcissus ‘Maybole Elegance’
Narcissus ‘Godiva’ Div ? W – Y
Narcissus ‘Tresamble’ Div 5. W-W