Daffodils for Easter and other bulbs!

04. April 2021 by Isabelle Van Groeningen
Categories: english, Seasons, Spring | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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Narzissen - Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Flagge Deutschland für deutsche Übersetzung – auf Deutsch lesen – These really are the most exciting weeks of the year. Every day I am greeted by new encounters in the garden. These spring delights happen overnight. Where a few days ago there was just bare earth and a few leaves, yesterday a small green bud, today timidly opening flowerbuds, and weather permitting, tomorrow a flowers. Hurrah! How magical is that?

The change from early spring to spring

The bulb-season is now in full-swing, and is just on the cusp of moving on from the smaller, early-spring brigade, into the bigger spring show-time flowers. Even at dusk, the luminous blue of scilla siberica still lights up the darker corners of the garden, but in between these the foliage of one of my favourite tulips T. praestans ‘Fusilier’ has shot up. Two days ago I was still wondering if they had managed to gather sufficient strength last season so they can flower again, and yesterday’s walkabout showed the first red buds, which this morning already started to open up.  Even though this is not a big large showy one, it is wonderfully early and very resilient. I am impressed how it thrives on my poor, sandy soil in the shade of the big oak and chestnut trees. It flowers early enough and seems to get sufficient light, as the trees are not yet in leaf. During their summer resting period the tree roots mop up any water and keeps the bulbs nice and dry, which tulips love.  The flowers are a clear luminous red, so that even at a distance it has great effect. It was my favourite one in our English garden, and has brought me as much joy here.

Primary colours

Added to these vibrant blue and red colour notes, come of course the first yellow narcissus. The perfect timing for Easter! In my garden this colour note is added by the delightful classic N. ‘Tète-a-Tète’ with perfect miniature daffodil flowers.  If you are looking for a large picture-book classic version, then the big, fat ‘Dutch Master’ is just the right plant: Large, cheerful, sunny yellow typical daffodil flowers, just as a child would draw them. Ideally planted in big drifts, these large flowers can be clearly seen, even from a distance.

Softer in colour and small in stature are ‘Topolino’ and even smaller ‘Elka’. Topolino’s snout is warmer yellow, and has a rather rushed edge, reminding me of an old-fashioned petticoat, whereas ‘Elka’ has a clear, pale yellow trumpet and is an absolute charmer. More varieties are to come – I will report on the later flowering narcissus as they emerge in the coming weeks.

Cyclamineus daffodils

Narzissen - Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Narcissus ‘Peeping Tom’

In the same cheerful yellow colour-range (which I find so important at this early time of year!) is one I am very fond if: ‘Peeping Tom’ This cyclamineus-type daffodil has a long narrow trumpet, its outer petals curled back. Also a tall daffodil of approximately 40cm, it will naturalize well and become a long-lasting garden friend. Regrettably, it is one of the more expensive ones to buy, but well worth the investment. Most of the cyclamineus-types of narcissus have this particular charming characteristic that their outer petals are folded back. They always remind me of spaniel’s ears on a wind-swept day flapping behind the dog’s head in a very jolly way. ‘Rapture’ is another one of them, smaller (about 20-25com tall) with a long, straight slender “snout” and its ears folded back far.  

Naturalising Daffodils

Narzissen - Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' © Isabelle Van Groeningen
Narcissus ‘Peeping Tom’

Even though the above cultivars can be established in larger colonies in grass, nothing beats planting wild narcissus, as they tend to be the least demanding of all. Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. obvallaris. Also known as the Tenby-daffodil, occurs in the wild in Wales, and is its national flowers, though it was probably introduced there during the middle ages. It is charming. Standing about 25-30cm tall, the base of the outer petals of this well-proportioned trumpet-narcissus fade to green.

Bulb trial

Zwiebelsichtung © Isabelle Van Groeningen

Although we have planted thousands of bulbs over the years at the Garden Academy , adding more each year, flowers and their delightful details can be easily missed at this busy time of year. With this in mind we decided last autumn to pot up a large proportion of the hundreds of bulbs we sell each autumn, so we can observe them at closer quarters. When you come to the garden academy this spring, you will see the wonderful display in front of the “Root House” the small brick building at the end of the main path. Since weeks there has been a succession of small irises, crocuses, crown imperials and now the first daffodils and tulips. I have particularly enjoyed watching the emerging foliage of some of the tulips, as some of these displayed an attractive reddish tone. A details which tends to get lost when planted out in a bed amongst other plants. Tulip ‘Doll’s Minuet’ has retained its reddish hue, whereas ‘Pink Impression’ has lost most of the red seen in the first weeks after it emerged. The first tulip to open up with a big hammer-impact is the kaufmaniana-type ‘Show Winner’. This is a short, early hybrid with attractively red-marked foliage. Its rather long, narrow buds will open up fully on sunny days to display shining red petals, with a yellow blotch at the base. Tulipa polychroma could not be more different. With more slender glaucous leaves, it has two smaller white flowers per stalk, the outer of the petals streaked with softest blue-grey-green colours, as if coloured with colour pencils. These two open their arms wide to welcome the sun into its heart, closing up again as it turns round the corner, preserving themselves for another day.

Labels with QR Codes

All of the pots have a special label with the name of the variety and type of bulb and unique QR code. We have started introducing these codes on our plant labels, as this is a perfect means to communicate more information about the plant, and also allows us to pass on practical information such as planting and care-instructions, which customers can read in peace at home.  When you scan this  code with your mobile telephone in camera-mode, it will take you to our website which provides much more detailed information about each of these plants. In case you have decided it is one you absolutely must have in your own garden next spring, you can place an order there and then, and enjoy an early-bird discount of 10% on last season’s prices. This avoids the inevitable problem each autumn, trying to remember what it was you wanted to order!

Enjoy these precious gardening days, and have a peaceful, wonderful Easter!

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