A host of golden daffodils will be in bloom this spring in gardens nationwide celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth whose most famous poem, I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud – is also known as Daffodils.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr (rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr) in Yorkshire has planted 22,000 bulbs, a Golden Mile of narcissi leading from Beckwithshaw to the garden entrance, while more than 70,000 daffodils will be on display throughout the garden.
At Wisley (rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley), the RHS flagship garden in Surrey, a new planting of 32,000 cyclamineus (cyclamen flowered) daffodils will spring up throughout the Pinetum, while Hyde Hall’s (rhs.org.uk/gardens/hyde-hall) famously dazzling drifts of daffodils will be a spring highlight throughout the Essex garden.
Visitors to RHS Rosemoor (rhs.org.uk/gardens/rosemoor) in Devon can enjoy a new display of the Rosewarne daffodil collection, as well as the garden’s eponymous flower, Narcissus ‘Rosemoor Gold’.
At the RHS Flower Show in Cardiff (from April 17-19), during the show’s 15th anniversary, there will be a spectacular display of these popular blooms from daffodil specialists R & A Scamp, winners of Best in the Floral Marquee 10 times.
Expert Ron Scamp offers the following tips on how to plant daffodils and get the best show of blooms.
What’s the secret of daffodil success?
“The most important thing is that your bulbs are sound and of good quality. Make sure the bulbs are firm. You can go to many places to see bulbs in supermarket and garden centres. Just give the bulb a little squeeze. If it feels firm and looks healthy, that should be fine.
“If you are buying from an unknown source and you don’t know what the bulb’s going to look like, you are relying on the reputation of your supplier.”
What are the rules for planting?
“Plant with at least four inches of soil on top of the bulb. Bear in mind that soil will settle, and if you plant too shallow, the bulb will split up too quickly and the bulbs will be too small to initiate a flower. That’s just one of the reasons bulbs go blind.
“If you plant at 4-6in deep, the bulb will settle and grow and multiply naturally.”
What sort of soil is ideal?
“Daffodils will grow in almost any soil, but ideally something slightly alkaline is good. They grow in all sorts of conditions, from very dry and arid places to mountain alpine pastures.
“If you have a heavy clay soil, add a bit of grit to the bottom of the hole. Bulbs don’t want to sit in water. If you are growing them in containers, add a bit of grit to the mix to maintain free drainage.”
Plant the bulbs from September and before the end of October.
How long should you leave them after flowering before tidying up?
“Leave them for at least eight weeks. Don’t cut leaves off until eight weeks after flowering, which is the time to harvest your bulbs if you are going to lift and divide them.
“Don’t tie them up. If you tie them in a knot you are just cutting off the sap and the growth within the leaf. It’s like having your throat cut. This year’s leaf is next year’s flower because all the goodness in the leaf has to go back into the bulb.”
How do you disguise straggly leaves?
“You could plant the bulbs in among other herbaceous plants and small shrubs, then you can hide them. If you have them growing in grass, by the time June comes along, the grass is getting a bit lanky.”
What are your favourites?
“I love some of the top show flowers we have like ‘Cape Cornwall’ and ‘Centenary Gold’. I have a soft spot for the historics, the old fashioned daffodils which have been around for a hundred years, like ‘White Lady’, ‘Elegance’ and ‘Amabilis’.”
Which types should you choose for containers?
“If you have big pots outside, any sort of daffodil is fine, but if you have a 9in pot or a small bowl, I’d go for dwarf types like the cyclamineus hybrids and apondanthus hybrids. Many miniatures are superb.”
Which are best for scent?
“Not all daffodils are scented, but most scented ones come into the poeticus, jonquilla and tazetta sub-species. Some are multi-headed and some tazettas can have up to 20 flowers on a stem. Tazettas are invariably very tall. The bulbs are like cricket balls and the flowers are on long stems, growing to around 24in. They look best in the back of the border.”