Daffodils and Narcissus are some of the most hard working and long lasting of garden bulbs
They are resistant to most pests and diseases and providing you let the foliage die down completely after flowering they will go on for many years creating bigger and better displays.
I always trial a few bulbs in a new area for a year before making a big investment, dig up a spent bulb around mid summer – if the bulb is larger than you put in then it’s a great site and go ahead and extend your planting, however if the bulb is small and sad looking ………….try somewhere else.
Bulbs are fantastic for naturalising
Among my favourites are Narcissus pseudonarcissus, Actaea and W.P Milner, but you must allow the leaves to completely die down in order to soak up the goodness for the following year.
Don’t be tempted to tie leaves into neat knots, this interrupts the flow of nutrients back to the bulb as much as chopping the leaves off!
For those who have husbands nippy with the lawn mower, they also make fantastic pot and container displays
Spring would not be complete without pots of Tete a Tete or the exotic Rip Van Winkle!
The range of Daffodil and Narcissi bulbs is vast and choice is not restricted to the traditional yellow trumpets any more
I have a real weakness for pure white and cream blooms such as Silver Chimes, Thalia and Tresamble. They make a fabulous seasonal addition to Spring Bridal Bouquets for those brides who wish to have British Flowers in their arrangements. That personal touch that, a British Heritage variety, super fresh from the garden!
Daffodils and Narcissus can be planted any time in the Autumn and I have been known to be planting right up to the end of January if I have come across bulb bargains in the sales!
Bulbs planted late in the season may benefit from soaking them before planting to rehydrate. This is not the ideal but, if they are reasonable enough you won’t mind losing a few and it’s a great way to try new varieties.
I found my all time favourite Binkie this way! Bulb packets can have the most unattractive photos! They really need a makeover!
If however you are growing for your own cut or Wedding Flowers, then I suggest buying them from a specialist such as Peter Nyssen who have kept them in optimal condition and arrange for them to be delivered around the time you wish to plant them.
On heavy soils a good layer of grit in the bottom of the planting hole can help protect against rot.
On my poor soils I give a high potash feed early spring.
By combining different varieties you can have successional flowers from February all they way through until the end of April / May
Early Varieties Include:
- February Gold and Tete a Tete (shown here with Hyacinth Deft Blue)
- Ice Follies
The knockout Bridal Crown really lives up to its name flowering in March but in April Sir Winston Churchill is almost identical just flowering that bit later – planted together you get a real succession of colour and Brides can hedge their bets!
By early April my essential combination of Thalia with the first of the Tulips shown here with Purissima Design.
Geranium, white with a bright orange red cup, scented looks knockout with Tulip Annie Schneider
Other scented Narcissi include Silver Chimes, Avalanche and Actaea……..
For a real perennial display try late season Actaea which has a snowy white perianth, yellow eye edged in red and pair this with the perennial Darwin Tulips Golden and Red Apeldoorn.
This will look great for years gently self sowing and spreading
Plant the classic Narcissi ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ for similar late flowers right into May shown here with Late Tulip Pretty Woman.
Narcissi make supreme cut flowers, lasting a week in a vase.
Be careful mixing with other flowers until the goo that the stems give off has cleared – let them soak in warm water on their own before arranging.
I have created a great many of these planting combinations, see more on the Swan Cottage Garden Facebook page