1… 2… 3… Narcissus!

Narcissus 'Salome'

Narcissus ‘Salome’

I’ve waited and waited, this wet and chilly limbo between winter and spring wouldn’t end but at last some real sun got out of the clouds and shone. It actually started warming even too much, I went from the thursday jumper straight to a sunday T-shirt but I won’t complain at all.

Last year David@the Anxious Gardener wrote that quite often narcissus skip the second year of blooming because they  need to settle, apparently they bloom in the first year because they’ve been kind of pumped up by the breeder, then they stay ‘dormant’, producing only leaves, during the second year. Well I was worried my bulbs could have behaved so: I bought them on some low-cost dutch website and I was prepared for the worse. Indeed my narcissus are looking even better than last year and all of them are blooming, having me sigh in relief. They’ve increased in number and become even taller than last year, evidently my soil is as poisonous for tulips as good for daffodils.

Tulipa praestans Shogun

Tulipa praestans Shogun

Indeed the only tulips which so far are not disappointing me this year are t. praestans Shogun: a rather short, very free flowering bright orange version of a species. Unfortunately tulip turkestanica decided to go missing this year, it’s a shame since I was planning on naturalizing some of them in the woodland meadow.

Narcissus Salome, leucojum aestivum and n. Geranium at the bottom

Narcissus Salome, leucojum aestivum and n. Geranium at the bottom

Due to the unceasing rain we had lately, slugs and snails have been banqueting on my poor narcissus, so the early ones are rather spoiled and chewed, it’s a pity. All the n. ‘February Gold’ had lasted very shortly because of the rain, my beloved n. ‘Canary Bird’ and the big white ‘Mount Hood’ have been chewed when still in bud, so that the flowers are now opening like a people chain, like one of those children use to carve out of folded paper.

Narcissus Gold Flake, persicaria Red Dragon with narcissus Mount Hood behind, osmanthus burkwoodii in bloom and ipheion with sedum Matrona at the bottom

Narcissus Gold Flake, persicaria Red Dragon with narcissus Mount Hood behind, osmanthus burkwoodii in bloom and ipheion with sedum Matrona at the bottom

I’ve intentionally planted a bunch of n. Mount Hood close to a oil green coloured phormium because I liked the duet but eventually the phormium always gets over winter very shaken (to be politically correct, even though the word I had in mind was fringed). At the end of the day, though, the combination works better seen from a distance that entangles the new wine red leaves of the persicaria: I shall remember this colour works well with a creamy white in spring, I could even use some roses’ new leaves as well…

Wild cherry blossom, n. Geranium on the right and n. Segovia bottom left

Wild cherry blossom, n. Geranium on the right and n. Segovia bottom left

Under the cherries another good narcissus of the jonquil type is at its prime: it’s the tall, sweetly scented n. Geranium. I think this variety is perfect to be naturalized on a meadow where the grass is left uncut. Narcissus Segovia looks very similar to a wild narcissus but although it is very scented its flowers are too scarce and small to be planted on my woodland garden, I think I need bolder features, stuff I can at least glimpse from my kitchen window.

Narcissus Curlew

Narcissus Curlew

Slipping back to white cultivars there are other two that I didn’t mention yet: the medium sized n. Curlew, with its off-white long trumpet, blooming under a yet leafless rose, I don’t recall any scent in particular but the abundance in blooming and the elegance of the flower shape make up for it.

Narcissus Sailboat, fritillaria uva vulpis and the only euphorbia that survives in my garden

Narcissus Sailboat, fritillaria uva vulpis and the only euphorbia that survives in my garden

Another good one is n. Sailboat, rather similar to the previous one but shorter in height and with a shorter trumpet too, star shaped outer petals and a butter shade on the centre. I can’t report any scent either on this one but I have to admit I didn’t kneel on the gravel to smell it. This one has dark leaves and they’re thinner too, I grow a solo clump in the gravel garden and I reckon it’s a perfect spot for it.

Narcissus Sailboat

Narcissus Sailboat

Speaking  of the gravel garden there are something else that are flowering like mads now and they’re the three amelanchier (two lamarkii and one canadensis but they look just alike in everything). Last year blossom was disappointing, as well as the berries produced but that was because of the drought we had, this year I’m counting on at least a few berries to add to my fruit salads in early summer. I love the strong almond taste they have.

Amelanchier blossom (serviceberry)

Amelanchier blossom (serviceberry)

I guess I wrote a lot, haven’t I? Well I still have a couple of pics I need to show you but I’ll be quick, I promise.

Top left narcissus Hillstar, right n. Bellsong and n. Minnow on bottom right

Top left narcissus Hillstar, right n. Bellsong and n. Minnow on bottom right

In the grass garden there are narcissus Hillstar underplanted with some white muscari. The muscari are far behind the daffs, I hope they’ll catch up on time: they would echo the white halo that appears at the base of the yellow trumpet when the flower ages (you still can’t see it in the picture). This narcissus is very free flowering and strongly scented, I like it. I also like n. Bellsong, with its pinkish orange trumpets and its sweet perfume. Thumb down indeed for the tiny n. Minnow: the flower is pretty, the scent is rather good (if you managed to sniff it) but the flowers don’t reach a small coin in size and they dare being down facing… What shall we do to have a glimpse of you, little Minnow? Maybe crawl?!

I’m nearly done, I want to leave you with a close up of a Helleborus orientalis I’ve grown from seed (well ok, it actually grown itself on its own, I only transplanted it), I think it’s a rather interesting cultivar, I like that green inner crown and the plum tinge on the petals.

30 thoughts on “1… 2… 3… Narcissus!

  1. Alberto, now its my turn to be complimentary. You Narcissus are amazing, better than I’ve seen anywhere. It does show how different our climate is though, doesn’t it? Narcissus don’t really grow for me, the climate and my soil mean they don’t have enough water or cold temperatures to be happy. I also love all your white varieties (and I usually only like classic yellow!) My garden is about a week or two behind on last year, is yours the same? Christina

    • I don’t know what it is, I had a lot more rain than last year, this for sure. As for the rest I guess my trick is planting narcissus in spot that could easily be disguised after blooming so the leaves could mature as long as they need (they could be still green by july, sometimes) and store all the energy to split the bulb and for the next year’s blooming. I totally agree with you about 1-2 weeks delay on last year.

  2. What a fantastic selection of narcissus Alberto, they are all really beautiful. I think we are all catching up now that spring has finally arrived, but we are nowhere near as warm as you yet. Your Amelanchiers are much further on than ours which are still in tight bud, this is my favourite small tree, so pretty.

    • I love my serviceberries too, although I guess they are not 100% happy in my garden, I think they’d need a cooler (and more rainy) climate to really thrive but so far they are fine. I’m sure I have a warmer climate than yours but this doesn’t necessarily mean my garden is ahead of yours, some plants needs more light hours rather than warm temperatures to bloom earlier and your days are longer since you live norther.

  3. Hi Alberto, lovely flowers – I’m rather taken with Curlew. I have found that generally daffs flower very well in their first year, tail off in their second and then flower better thereafter. But I’m very happy that you have not had that experience. Actually one planting of daffs that did particularly well during their first year and much less well in their second, are now in their third year, doing even less well! I think that for these ones, the meadow where I planted them is just too wet. Live and learn, eh? Dave

    • Honestly your theory seemed so straight to me that I believed it and almost made it mine. I was seriously worried when at first I couldn’t see buds amongst the new leaves. But finally the flowers arrived and your theory was only a giant bluff! 🙂
      Probably you bought cheap bulbs or, as you said, your meadow is too damp for them to thrive.
      So far Curlew seems to be the most popular amongst people commenting here.

  4. You have an excellent selection of Narcissus varieties – I am very fond of white and white/yellow or white/orange Narcissus. I like the Tulipa praestans also – I have T. praestans ‘Fusilier’ which is a wonderful red.

    • Hi Jason! thanks for your comment. I looked up for some Fusilier pics on Google and they are very red! 🙂 They revealed to be a great variety anyway, at least in my garden. I must remember it, since I don’t like considering tulips as annuals, I’d like bulbs to be a little treasure that grow and increase its value underground every year, so that the resistant varieties are very worthy to me.

  5. Spring for certain in your garden Alberto. How lucky for you that euphorbias won’t grow– they are one of the few invasive things in my clay soil. I like the narcissus Curlew with the soft colored center– Seems like all your bulbs are happy! Will the wild cherry tree produce fruit?

    • Hi Linnie! Lucky? I’d rather consider myself doomed about the euphorbia thing. I love its atomic green in spring and its unmistakeable glaucous grey leaves. I am particularly fond of euphorbia characias wulfenii, which I used to grow successfully in my previous garden but in here I can’t have half a plant established, I’m in despair.
      I have two cherry trees, the one we call ‘wild’ is some kind of seedling or very old variety that I can’t classify, it flowers earlier than the other and produces billions of tiny reddish black cherries that taste sweet but with a strong hint of bitterish at the end that makes them unpleasant. On top of that they are small and with a big bone but sometimes I cook them with some sugar and they are good as ice cream topping. (the other cherry tree is very good indeed but I have to share the cherries with hordes of blackbirds…)

      • Someone gave me that wulfenii euphorbia once. It got about eight feet tall and had the most noxious fragrance. Somehow it ended up out of the ground. (These things happen.) The cherry ice cream topping sounds wonderful. Birds eat most all our cherries too.

  6. Alberto, what a fabulous range of Narcissus you have. I am particularly fond of Curlew. Only time I found Daffs weakening in consecutive years was when I got fed up with the messy leaves and cut them back. I have been warned and am now fully under the control of she who must be obeyed.

    • I guess your personal narcissus Goddess is quite right, this is the only trick I follow religiously with narcissus: I never cut the leaves back until they had completely dried out. The real secret is planting them in some place in full sight during spring that gets covered during summer, amongst taller grasses or perennials, or close to some rose bushes, so that you don’t feel the urge of cutting anything back since you don’t really see those sluggish leaves. Amongst ferns is another perfect place, shame ferns don’t grow well in my garden.

  7. They are so beautiful and we are so envious as we enter our winter and have to wait six months for similar blooms – thanks for the delightful photos and commentary,

    • Hi Flavia! You are just on time to get some narcissus bulbs and plant them out for next spring and make me die envious as I’ll be reaching winter in my part of the World! 😉
      Indeed, I hope this post will be useful to you so you will have some hints on narcissus if you are planning to plant some, I’m here to share, not to make people envious!

  8. Nice to see the Amelanchier blossoms as I bought 2 yesterday for our new garden. Love that Narcissus Curlew. The Curlews are a mountain range not far from us here. It’s also an Irish native bird that is sadly under threat of extinction.

    • Hi Bridget! Your climate will be probably suit better the amelanchier than my, although they are actually still holding up rather good. I’m glad to learn the origin of the names of cultivars, it also helps me making a picture in my head of that name and makes it easier to remember. Before I used to think of something curly, because of the sound, from now I’ll picture some beautiful mountains far north, much better.

    • Hi Donna! Thank you for your comment. Spring’s been very belated here too but finally it arrived and exploded like a firework. Magnificent. Don’t despair, soon you’ll have your slice of warm and cheerful Spring too!

  9. Your narcissus all look amazing! I love the white ones the best, but also like the white with the yellow trumpets, too. I had no idea one could actually eat the berries off of a serviceberry tree! And I like your seedling hellebore. Love its little freckles.

    • Hi Holley! You really used to leave all the amelanchier berries to the blackbirds?! Crazy woman! I think the best way to taste those berries is adding them to straberries and banana salad, dressed only with sugar and lemon. You won’t miss a berry from now on, promise?

  10. Hi Alberto,

    Lovely blooms and photos! 😀
    Your collection really is growing; and here I thought I was doing well with the Daffs this year compared to previous years!

    I may well have to hunt down some ‘sailboat’ for myself, it looks very nice and as my ‘silver chimes’ have all but gone, this is very similar and I think will make a nice replacement. I hope it is indeed scented.

    Your Hellebore is lovely; well worth waiting for it to mature me thinks 🙂

    • I’ve recently seen an almost identical hellebore in your blog too, is your some kind of known cultivar?
      I’ve looked n. ‘silver chimes’ on google and yes, they look quite alike sailboat indeed. A strong point for sailboat is they have a nice foliage and the flowers last for quite a long time. I bought all my bulbs at eurobulb.nl they are selling at a good rate I think.

    • Yes, it definitely has! Apparently the worst of my daffodils just didnt’ increase in number, but all the other did, flowers are bigger and on taller stalks. Apparently all the not flowering in the second year was just a big con by David!!!! 🙂

    • Thanks Michael, indeed the weather has been chilly and wet, so far, as it’s supposed to be in Spring, although it’s usually too dry or too hot for bulbs. So I guess I’m feeling lucky this year.

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