Laurel Ridge's daffodil island in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Laurel Ridge’s daffodil island in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Like dozens of mini volcanoes spewing vibrant petals across the landscape, our daffodils have started erupting in a brilliant display that will last for weeks to come. The beloved Narcissus, commonly known as daffodil, is a happy flower popping up all over the countryside this spring, spreading joy and cheer wherever it happens to appear. And not only are the hillsides and meadows of the U.S. rejuvenated from this glorious display, this popular flower is treasured across Europe as well.  Actually, our fair Narcissus, which comes in a range of shapes (trumpet, cupped, doubles), colors (white, yellow, orange, peach) and sizes (6 inch petites to over 24 inches), is considered one of the most recognized flowers in the world today.

Colorful daffodils line my fenceline in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Colorful daffodils line my fence line (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Narcissus is a genus of (mostly Zone 5) hardy, spring blooming bulbous perennials from the Amaryllis family.  Classified into 13 categories: 1) Trumpet, 2) Large-cupped, 3) Small-cupped, 4) Double, 5) Triandrus, 6) Cyclamineus, 7) Jonquilla, 8) Tazetta, 9) Poeticus, 10) Bulbocodium, 11) Split-corona, with 12) and 13) considered Miscellaneous.  Across the world, narcissus symbolizes anything from vanity to good fortune, its fragrance is revered in China, Persia compares daffodils to beautiful eyes, they are the national flower of Wales, William Wordsworth wrote a poem about them, even charities have used the daffodil (Daffodil Days) for fundraising since the 1950’s. Over 140 varieties have gained recognition by the Royal Horticultural Society, and more than 27,000 new cultivars were registered in 2008 alone.

Daffodil with stunning apricot corona in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Daffodil with stunning apricot corona (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

But, I’ve never been a person that follows the crowd or cares what other people like.  I love daffodils just because.  Their flawless beauty and durability, combined with pest resistance and fragrant blossoms are simply an added bonus.  And talk about color options!  The perianth (surrounding petals) are usually more subdued in shades of white, pale yellow or golden orange, while the corona (center cup) offers a wider range of contrasting hues from a soft pink and light coral to bolder lime green or tangerine red. The doubles provide another alternative with mixes of dramatic shade unions of gold and tangerine, or equally stunning blossoms of the same luminosity. Color aside, the angelic white ‘Stainless’ can stop traffic just as well.

This narcissus is a dazzling mini solar system in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

This narcissus is a dazzling mini solar system (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

From as far back as the 16th century (possibly further), the common name daffodil was thought to be derived from the meadow flower Asphodel, somehow later translated to affodell, finally evolving to the name we recognize today.  Yet, no matter what you call them, daffodil or narcissus make superb companions to both herbaceous and woody plants; with the potential to mix them into your garden border, plant randomly in an established woodland, naturalize in your meadow or lawn, or under-plant in protected containers. When sited in a sunny (to part shade), well drained location, daffodils will provide decades of reliable bloom every spring, something many of us that have endured seemingly endless winters are thrilled to see.

A daffodil with bright orange center in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A daffodil with bright “Cheetos” orange corona (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

*Note:  Remember that Narcissus, like other bulbs, needs to photosynthesize before you cut back the foliage.  If you plant them in with summer perennials, nature will cover up the browning foliage for you.  They can also be successfully divided in early summer or fall.

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