from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software
Let’s talk about daffodils. I love them all – except, sorry, not the pink ones. Why would daffodils even think of being pink? – but I’m skewed towards the miniature ones. The big ones, dotted along banks and road verges or popping up in wild hedges, are fabulous. They catch your breath, confirm the coming of spring, bring pools of gold to the greens and browns of passing winter. But in my garden, and especially in a container, the little ones reign supreme.
The taller daffodils are regal. They cluster together. They hunt in packs. There’s a swathe of them all along the bank in front of our row of cottages and they look fantastic.
Apart from the ones opposite our house, sadly, where they struggle up in ones and twos. They look a sorry sight compared with the voluptuous flowering a few metres down. We’ve recently moved in and it seems the previous occupant was a fiend with the lawn mower and favoured a crewcut approach to both his lawn and the bank opposite. So that would explain it. Daffodils need to be left until their leaves yellow and wither before mowing to give them time to store up energy for next year’s blooms. We’ll try a bit of tender neglect this year and see if normal flowering eventually resumes.
I’ll be more than happy to enjoy the spring display. But in the tamer confines of the garden, I find the miniature daffodils friendlier. They are content to jostle with spring irises and pale primroses, with colourful pansies and red-purple fritillaries. They have their own smaller kingdom.
In my last garden, I had several smaller daffodils – Rip Van Winkle in green-yellow ragged flounces, delicately coloured Hawera and Jetfire with orange cups and swept back yellow petals – but the tiny queen is Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’, named for its tendency to have more than one flower, nodding companionably, on each stalk.
So, here they are again, in my new garden – the first flowers we bought here. We’d just discovered our nearest garden centre and plundered their benches for some spring treasure. The pots outside the kitchen window have been flowering cheerfully ever since. The yellow narcissus has kept going, producing more new buds to open into little golden stars bobbing on slender stems.
The reticulata irises – pale Clairette and red-purple J. S. Dijt – have come and gone – and the chequered fritillaries are pushing up to take their place, straightening their shoulders and uncurling as they emerge. And still, ‘Tête-à-tête’ shows no sign of stopping. It is one of the most popular miniature daffodils and it’s clear to see why.
The lady-in-waiting of the container, a constant and supportive companion, is the exquisite gold-rimmed and centred red-black flowers of Primula Gold-Laced. And round the edge of the pots are the cheerful little ruffled pansies – the knights in Tête-à-tête’s realm. I’m still deciding what to do with the rest of the garden – with its uneven lurches, its downward keel and the septic tank right in the centre of the lawn. But these little pots of colour have kept me going and there will always be space to squeeze some more dwarf daffodils in my plot.
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