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Grand Primo?????

Here is a vase full of 'Grand Primo' and other lovely January flowers.

Yesterday after much rain, I ventured out to see what was going on in the garden.

I was startled to realize that the ‘Grand Primo’ daffodils were in bloom.

‘Grand Primo’ is a small white narcissus with a creamy yellow cup.  Flowers are borne in clusters and are very fragrant.  It is one of my favorite daffodils.

‘Grand Primo’, in my experience, blooms in late February or early March.

And yet – here it was in January.

I didn’t know quite what to think.

I was delighted to see it and yet sad that it would soon be gone.


 

Pushing the Envelope

This colorful arrangement contains camellias, Walter's viburnum, loud orange blueberry foliage & early blooming dafs.

First let me apologized for being MIA for the last 6 weeks or so.

I have been in the process of moving.

Fortunately just next door so I still have access to both gardens.

This weekend my dear friend J’Lynn came for a visit.

To celebrate –  I made one of the first flower arrangements in the new house.

I do love the daffodils.  Last year I ordered some new Narcissus tazetta hybrids from Bill the Bulb Baron .

These hybrids are supposed to bloom early – some in fall and others in early winter.

I am still discovering what they will actually do in Mississippi.  But… as you can see in my kitchen window arrangement, at least a couple are blooming very early as advertised.

'Autumn Pearl' & 'Princess Hallie's Gold'

The white flowered narcissus is ‘Autumn Pearl’ and the yellow (I believe) is ‘Princess Hallie’s Gold’.

I wondered when I ordered these bulbs if I was pushing the envelope too much.

Is it against God to have daffodil flowers in the fall?

Will it make me appreciate them less during daf season?

I don’t know but the gleaming pair in my kitchen window two weeks before Christmas make me ridiculously happy.

Thanks to you, Bill the Bulb Baron!


 

The Late Narcissii

'Geranium' glows in the late afternoon light in Thera Lou Adam's field.

It is with great sadness that I report that I am getting down to the last of the daffodils here at my place.

It has been a beautiful daffodil season but everything bloomed early.  The American Daffodil Society met in Jackson last week and I’m sure the garden tours had very few dafs in bloom.

The remaining few in bloom in my garden now are beautiful and precious.  They are, of course, my current favorites.

I am much enamored of the bunch flowered ‘Geranium’.    Her creamy petals seem to glow in unison with her radiant orange cup.

The poet’s narcissus (Narcissus poeticus) is an ancestor of  ‘Geranium’.  This would account for her late flowering, shade tolerance and the deeper orange rim that accents her flower cups.

Hawera blooms under my 100' white oak with Lenten rose and trillium.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my dear sweet little ‘Hawera’.  She is a diminutive lemony beauty.   One of her parents is Little Sweetie (Narcisssus jonquilla) and the Angel’s Tears Narcissus (Narcissus triandrus) is the other.

‘Hawera’ is tiny with pale yellow nodding blossoms.  Right now her slender emerald green foliage is crowned by masses of dainty blooms.

I have planted ‘Hawera’ all around my place because like ‘Geranium’ and ‘Thalia’ she blooms well in shade.

I often spec ‘Hawera’ in landscape plans if the client objects to yellowing daffodil foliage.  ‘Hawera’ leaves are so small that when the dormant season approaches, they seem to just dissolve.

'Thalia' blooms with the Louisiana phlox beneath my flowering dogwood.

And then there is the strikingly elegant Thalia.  I loved her first because she always bloomed with the dogwoods.  This year not so much.

Still ‘Thalia’s pristine white flowers remind me of a pair of orchids.  Like ‘Hawera’ her Angel’s Tears parents bequeathed a nodding chalice shaped cup and back-swept cyclamen like petals.

Are these tardy dafs beloved because they are among the last?

Or because all three will take some shade?

Or because all are heirlooms with evidence of their wild narcissus parentage?

Or is it because they are just swell plants?

I’m not sure but I am really digging them.

I do know that this morning as I gathered a few stems for a small bouquet, they prompted a Robert Herrick moment.

This morning's bouquet of 'Thalia', 'Geranium' and 'Hawera'

The charm of these beauties is apparent when photographed against a black background.

In the 1600’s Herrick wrote a poem called “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”.

I probably remember it because in the 70’s these lines were used as a justification for free love!

I remember it now for different reasons.  It goes like this –

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying….”

 

And so this morning I gathered my daffodils while I might.

I arranged them in an ikebana vase that was a gift from my friend Denice.

Then, on a whim, I photographed them against a black background.  Because, after all, they too will soon pass.


 

 

 

 

Thera Lou’s Field

Daffodils carpet the ground around a 113 year old pecan.

The 'Incomparabilis' daffodils were in full bloom.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to ramble about looking at daffodils for a few days.

I toured some lovely private gardens but on Wednesday evening I visited two public displays in Louisiana.

First I toured Caroline Dormon’s home, Briarwood.  I promise to write more about Briarwood one day soon.

I then traveled on to Thera Lou Adam’s wonderful daffodil planting near Winnfield, LA.

Isn't this a lovely Louisiana scene?

Thera Lou’s field is a memorial to her husband Nelton Adams.

For 51 weeks each year, Thera Lou works to maintain the site.

On one weekend, the planting is open for public viewing.

The H. Nelton Adams Daffodil Field is quite stunning.

Tomorrow is the last day it will be open for viewing this year.  If you live in the area, make the effort and get out to see the fruition of Thera Lou’s efforts.  Click on the link above for more information.

I know that I will remember my visit to Thera Lou’s for quite some time.  I’ll end this post with a quote from William Wordsworth

“… For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”


 

Sustainability Thoughts

I am happy to see Barrett Browning every spring.

In order to prepare for a talk, I researched the meaning of sustainability and found that it means the “ability to endure”.  Heirloom daffodils certainly meet those specs.

Yesterday I discovered my first ‘Barrett Browning’ daffodil bloom of the season.  I was delighted to photograph it with my new camera – Yip!!!

‘Barrett Browning’ was introduced in 1945 and named for two famous lovers.  It is a member of ADA Division 3 which includes the small cupped daffodils.

I think that the cup on this one is not so much a small cup as it is a short cup.

The cup is flared and ruffled around the edge and is an intense orange red color.  The petals are a creamy ivory.  ‘Barrett Browning’ is a gaudy little thing.

I’ve had this gem growing in my back yard for over 15 years.  I enjoy wandering around the backyard trail and picking it for my vases.

It thrives under my giant (100’+) white oak in a place that would be too shady for most daffodils.  Still ‘Barrett Browning’ perseveres and offers me a lesson in sustainability each spring!

I’ll be talking at the Gaining Ground Sustainability Conference in Hattiesburg, Mississippi at 1:00 this afternoon.  If you’re in the area come check me out.

For more info check it out at http://yardflower.com/?p=2517


 

February Gold

Woodrow ponders a beautiful patch of 'February Gold' daffodils.

I am a fiend for daffodils.

This time of year I travel with a shovel.  I’ll stop in a heartbeat to dig heirloom bulbs from an old house site (with permission, of course).  I also have some regular digging spots – most notably my friend Stan’s kudzu patch.

I will fork out the cash to buy daffodil bulbs as well.  I add a few new ones every year and am already working on my list for 2012.

One of my favorite store bought daffodils is ‘February Gold’.

I purchased a huge sack about 15 years ago and they have grown without any care and never missed a season of bloom.  This is amazing because they are planted in heavy clay and part shade in an area of the garden that is often neglected.

These sort of growing conditions are deal breakers for many other daffodil varieties.

My research tells me that February Gold was introduced in 1923 and that it received a Royal Horticultural Society award.

According to the American Daffodil Society it is classified in Division 6 which makes it part of the Cyclamineus clan.  The ADS describes that Division as having “One flower to a stem, perianth significantly reflexed and corona straight and narrow.”  In plain English that means that the trumpet is straight and narrow and the petals are swept back.

This year ‘February Gold’ began blooming in January. It was the first yellow daffodil to bloom here this year.  It even beat out the Lent lily.

I look forward to filling my vases with these jewels for another couple of weeks.

A Little Sweetie for Valentine’s Day

Scratch your computer screen and sniff!

The weather was beautiful today – sunny with temperatures in the 60’s.

I spent most of my time outdoors.  It was a lovely winter day – right on the cusp of spring with azure skies and budded canopies.

As I meandered through the garden, I noticed the first ‘Little Sweetie’ of the year.

‘Little Sweetie’ is a species daffodil or narcissus.  It has tiny golden blossoms with a delightful sweet spicy fragrance.

I spied this wonderful treasure and immediately dropped to my knees for a sniff.    I inhaled deeply and sighed as the scent molecules sent a blissful jolt to my synapses.

I photographed ‘Little Sweetie’.  Then I picked her only flower.  I walked the nature trails pausing frequently to breathe the intoxicating scent.

All in all, I can’t think of a better Valentine gift.

If you would like to know more of my thoughts about ‘Little Sweetie’, check out my last year’s blog post about this wonderful heirloom daffodil at  http://yardflower.com/?s=little+sweeties


 

False Advertising

My January daffodils ('Princess Hallie's Gold', 'Marisol' and 'February Gold') mingle with 'Peggy Clarke' Japanese apricot to provide some excellent bathroom decor.

This evening I heard the first spring peepers of 2011.

My Japanese apricot (Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’) has a few flowers and tons of saucy pink buds.

The sweet daphne is loaded with buds as well.

A few of the daffodils are starting to pop.

I’m still getting some of the Bulb Baron’s bunch daffodils or tazettas.    A couple of the yellow ones are blooming now (‘Marisol’ and ‘Princess Hallie’s Gold’).

I was thrilled a few days ago to find that the ‘February Gold’ daffodils were beginning to flower a little earlier than normal.

‘February Gold’ is a cyclamineus hybrid.  You can tell because it has petals that are swept back away from the corolla.   The corolla has the appearance of a trumpet.

I was delighted to find enough to pick.  I made a dandy arrangement for the back of my toilet.  I have uploaded a picture here for those of you who might be interested in bathroom decor.

Maybe in the South we should call it ‘January Gold’.

By the way, if you are new to this blog and dig daffodils, click on the “Daffodil” category link in the sidebar and all my old posts on daffodils will be displayed.

Some of the posts will be helpful if you are trying to identify the old daffodil varieties that may have come with your place.


 

Small Pleasures

Today the wall vase over my kitchen sink contains 'Minor Monarque' daffodil, 'Professor Sargent camellia and a possumhaw holly twig with road flare orange fruit.

It was rainy this morning and I hung around the house and had a sort of stream of consciousness kind of day.  It cleared a bit in the afternoon and I ventured down to the veggie garden to sow some English and snow pea seed.

While I was out, I gathered the first of the ‘Minor Monarque’ narcissus and a few crimson ‘Professor Sargent’ camellias.  I plopped them into the tiny wall vase that hangs over my kitchen sink.  I added a bit of boxwood foliage and a possumhaw holly twig loaded with orange fruit.  The result pleased me.

For the rest of the day, I smiled every time I walked into the kitchen and saw my little composition.

There wasn’t much to my arrangement (unless you want to count the first daffodils of 2011).  I’d hopefully get a “C” if it was a project in a Floral Design class.

There’s not much to the wall vase, either.  As I recall, I paid $2.00 for it and it now has a gigantic chip on the lip.

But still, the combination made me ridiculously happy on a January day and inspired me to post a favorite Annie Dillard quote taken from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

“… The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get….”


 

Stolen Pleasures

Today the wonderful sunny 65 degree weather inspired me to ramble around my garden and nature trails.  As I walked, I collected treasures to fill my vases.

I harvested the expected branches of tinted leaves – scarlet Japanese maples, golden American beech and flaming orange huckleberry.

I gathered flowering evergreen stems from 5 types of camellias.

I began to feel a little sneaky as I pilfered 3 types of roses for my bouquet.   My Butterfly rose, Maple-leaf rose and ‘Cramoisi Superieur’  each had a few late season blossoms to offer.  I took advantage of their generous nature and stealthily nabbed 9 rose stems.

I was delighted to find Autumn Pearl's precocious blooms today.

And then… I rounded the corner and a big grin spread across my face when I spotted the first daffodil of the season!

I knelt eagerly to examine this most unexpected gift.   The petals were ivory and the cups were pale yellow.  I leaned in and inhaled a delightful scent.

These precocious blooms were produced by an ‘Autumn Pearl’  bulb that I planted a little over a month ago.   I ordered the bulb from Bill the Bulb Baron.  It is one of his hybrid tazetta (bunch) daffodils that was selected for early bloom time.

I was delighted to experience ‘Autumn Pearl’ for the first time.  I hesitantly picked one stem and left the other three.

After a guilty glance over my shoulder, I moved on clutching the purloined bloom.

About that time, I spied the first azalea flower of the season.

The bearer was a ‘Vitatta Fortunei’ azalea.  This antique azalea is progeny of those collected by Robert Fortune in China in 1850.  The blooms are either white or white with peppermint pink streaks.  I collected cuttings from Mrs. Mary Alice Oliver’s fine old garden here in Meridian.  Mrs.  Oliver called it Vie-teddy Fortun-ee.   So do I unless I’m hanging with proper Latin speakers.

I snagged a stem with 3 fat sassy azalea buds that will open in the vase.

Then I headed home to assemble my arrangements.

I’ve been thinking, though, that when I chance upon a flower that is blooming out of season, I feel as if I’m somehow pulling a coup or getting away with something.  I feel like I just climbed out the window of my teenaged bedroom and am headed out for a night of fun.


 


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