Wordsworth was right – there’s not much that beats the sight of golden daffodils in spring. Snowdrops signal that winter is nearly over, but daffodils mean spring has arrived and they bring hope and cheer to our gardens. And if you choose them carefully, you can make that feeling last until May.
Garden centres still have daffodil bulbs in stock and they can be planted now. The sooner they go in the ground the better, so they have as long as possible to establish roots before they produce shoots and flowers.
Some varieties of daffodils can flower as early as February, just as the snowdrops start to fade. Small, dainty ‘February Gold’ and ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ produce beautiful pale yellow blooms when temperatures creep upwards and the sun shines.
By March, more daffodils are on their way. The distinctive ‘hoop petticoat’ daffodil, Narcissus bulbocodium, flowers this month, as does Narcissus pseudonarcissus, our native wildflower daffodil and the one that Wordsworth wrote about. But April is when your garden can be a sea of golden yellow.
Mini variety ‘Tête-à-tête’ is hard to beat for containers and window boxes with stems producing two or three flowers, but similarly-sized ‘Jetfire’ is very good too, with an orange trumpet in the centre of its bright yellow petals.
All the large, traditional daffs flower in April too, such as ‘King Alfred’ with its large golden flowers. If you want to try something different though, take a look at ‘Thalia’ with its pure white, nodding flowers and swept-back petals. I also love ‘Topolino’, with white petals and an elegant trumpet of pale lemon yellow.
There are even varieties that flower in May. You could be forgiven for thinking that something has gone wrong with Narcissus poeticus because it takes so long for the flower buds to appear. Almost every year I think they’re not going to flower, but then in late spring, out come their white flat-faced blooms, each with a tiny little cup-shaped trumpet in the centre and a sweet, delicate scent. Their flowering comes to an end as big purple alliums are starting, helpfully bridging the gap between spring and summer.
So don’t worry too much if you’re a bit late planting daff bulbs; the only side-effect may be slightly short flower stems, but they’ll sort themselves out and flower brilliantly next spring.
MUST-BUY PLANT… Aeonium
This succulent has fleshy green leaves. Perfect in a porch or on a windowsill during the winter months, when it needs to be kept frost free.
This variety is especially striking, with circular heads of shiny purple-black leaves. Keep it frost free and in gritty, free-draining compost.
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