Plant of the month: March
This daffodil, Narcissus cyclamineus, can be found by the Rock Garden Pool and belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae.
This gorgeous small daffodil has intense yellow petals that sweep back dramatically from the narrow frilly-edged trumpet, making the flower seem twice as long as it is. It grows to about 125mm high with narrow pale green leaves that are about the same length.
This species, known from 1608, is now quite rare in the wild and was once thought to be lost. However it was rediscovered in 1885 outside the town of Oporto in Portugal.
Narcissus cyclamineus is growing well at the Gardens in gravelly soil by the Rock Garden Pool. This appears to suit it as it is spreading very happily. It resents being dug up and increases through seed dispersal rather than the normal offsets. This means that buying bulbs that have dried out in a packet may not be worthwhile, sowing a packet of seed is a better option.
A second interesting daffodil can be found to the rear of the Lawn Aviary, Narcissus ‘Tamara’ is one of the earliest daffodils to flower and can be seen from February. ‘Tamara’ is a wonderfully strong looking daffodil with bold yellow flowers.
Apparently all narcissi leaves contain small, very sharp crystals of calcium oxylate, which discourages grazing animals. This is great news for the Gardens as this makes narcissi one of the few bulbs not targeted by mice, squirrels or badgers.
Narcissi bulbs need to be in the ground early in the bulb planting season, late August or early September is the optimal time. This gives the bulbs plenty of time to put down strong roots.
Cyclamineus enjoys soil that is the acid side of neutral with more water than most narcissi require. ‘Tamara’ along with most other narcissi enjoy neutral soil that is not too dry in the summer.
Please do not be tempted to cut back the daffodil foliage until it has died back as the leaves produce nutrients that are sent down into the bulb for next year’s growth and flower production. Similarly tying the leaves up into neat bundles stops this process happening.
A good feed with a high potash fertiliser after flowering will also help produce large blooms next year.
As clumps become congested they will stop flowering so at this point dig them up, split them and replant with a generous handful of high potash fertiliser. You will be rewarded with an abundance of flowers in the following years.