Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slim pickins...

My one tiny claim to Narcissus fame is that this tiniest of daffodils, Narcissus scaberulus, loves me. Mind you, the flower is less than an inch across. And you won't find it sold by bulb merchants. I simultaneously was given bulbs of this several decades ago by the spouse of a colleague at work (who collected them, shamed to say) and from an obscure English bulb merchant. I'm not sure which of these formed the base of my stock, but it prospered at the Gardens for years, but at my old house it set fat seedpods and produced dozens of progeny. When we sold the house, I made sure to transplant lots of these onto a similar north facing rock garden slope at Quince St., and shared the rest widely. So you can now tell who my best friends are locally because they too have thrifty stands of this obscure Iberian miniature.
While tulips, crocuses and iris thrive in Colorado, my luck with daffodils is mixed. I simply don't keep things wet enough many places for the standard sorts to thrive, and they often devolve into flowerless clumps of leafage. I know there are some toughies: Narcissus asturiensis has ramped all through Sandy Snyder's buffalograss lawn, and there are old clumps of pseudonarcissus, the wild sort, in the Rock Alpine Garden. But when I recall the literally millions of N. bulbocodium sorts I wandered through in Wordsworthian fashion in April of 1981 at Savill Gardens in Windsor Great Park, glowing golden in the late afternoon light, with Magnolia campbellii shimmering pink overhead and Lysichiton (white and yellow) along the streamside, I realize there is much more to do in the way of daffodils! And my little colonies of Narcissus scaberulus are pretty pitiful by contrast.


  1. Tinier than N. asturiensis, N. juncifolius or N. minimus?

  2. The flower is smaller than asturiensis, although it is a tad taller I admit. It is definitely smaller in bloom than minimus...but I don't think I know N. juncifolius so may stand to be corrected...


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