Kate Hardy

Daffs with a difference

Kate Hardy
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Fed up of bog-standard daffodil varieties? Try something new this year and your garden will thank you for it

It’s funny to think that there are two times of year when we revel in the glory of daffodils. One of them is now, in the depths of autumn, when we get excited about planting different varieties in a spectrum of colours, visualising carpets of them in the spring sunshine. Then when spring does come there’s the lovely surprise of beautiful blooms – I always forget what varieties I bought and where I’ve planted them!  

It’s easy to get carried away buying bags and bags of bulbs – either you’re in ‘the more the merrier’ camp, or in the ‘mustn’t go too mad’ camp but either way, you may need guidance on their shapes and sizes.

Large, brassy ‘King Alfred’s’ in clumps are fine, but if you’re after something a little more dainty and elegant – and a lot more interesting – choose species types. These are the natural daffodils that hybrids and frilly breeds in all shapes and colours stem from and are wonderful poking up diminutively in pockets, or naturalised in lawns. Plus there’s their hybrids, wearing a natural ancestry on their sleeves. For a more natural look, grace wilder parts of the garden, lawns, rock gardens and terracotta pots with exquisite blooms. 

Narcissus bulbocodium is simply beautiful with its petticoat, papery trumpets on 20cm high stems, ideal for an alpine bed. 

Narcissus cyclamineus is fascinating and has reflexed ‘windswept’ blooms like its wintry namesake. Classic mini hybrids ‘Jetfire’ and ‘February Gold’ have been bred from it. 

Sumptuously scented ‘Canaliculatus’ has short, slim stems with lots of tiny heads in white and yellow. 

But my favourite is Narcissus romieuxii, with distinctive chive-like leaves and large lemon-yellow cups, like little hibiscus blooms. Larger though are Tenby daffodils (Narcissus obvallaris), wild in South Wales, which are very special indeed. Super hardy and perfectly formed classics, they won’t disappoint. 

But for a Wordsworth feel, Narcissus pseudonarcissus is a wild British native in white-yellow, easy to grow and spread, with long-lasting blooms in March.

  • Online specialist daffodil nurseries: Ron Scamp (www.qualitydaffodils.com) or Pottertons Nursery (www.pottertons.co.uk) 

3 brand new plants to try... 

1 Hibiscus ‘Petit Orange’

A tender patio hibiscus. Long flowering, it can be brought inside in cooler autumn months.

2 Mulberry ‘Charlotte Russe’

Winner of Plant of the Year at Chelsea 2017, this dwarf mulberry can be grown in pots and fruits in its first year.

3 Clematis ‘Taiga’ 

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Also launched at Chelsea this year was this striking, spiky purple clematis with green-white tips – a bit of a Marmite plant!

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