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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.


 

 

 

 

Daffodil Dreams

When February Gold blooms in late winter, I contract a serious case of spring fever!

I’m sitting here listening to the rain on the roof.   It rained steady here all day today.  It’s almost midnight and still raining.  I believe there’s rain in the forecast for tomorrow as well.

Before all this rain started, I was walking in the garden and I noticed the first two or three flowers on my February Gold daffodils.  There were also plenty of fat sassy buds.  I know that when the rain stops, I’ll have drifts of gold blossoms for days!  Sitting here on a cold rainy night, that thought comforts me.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’ve vowed to photograph and write about all my daffodils.  That’s the great thing about having a blog – you can justify that sort of indulgence.

The first daffodil that I wrote about was the Minor Monarque which was pilfered from an old house place.  February Gold was store bought.  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.

As the rain patters on the roof,  I’m imagining blue skies.  I’m rambling around in my garden picking a huge bouquet of February Gold daffodils.  I inhale their sweetness and suddenly it’s springtime.

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