Sunday, November 25, 2012

Untimely daffs...

Narcissus albidus v. foliosus
If it were not for the seemingly endless variability of Mediterranean bulbs (and those from Central Asia and other bulby places too I suppose) winter would be very long indeed. I only obtained these two morsels in the last few years, both blooming cheerfully the last week of November! We have had numerous hard frosts, and the temperature at night has not been much above freezing most of the last month--with one or two nights dipping into the teens. This has not been through a winter yet, but N. cantabricus below did go through last winter.

Narcissus cantabricus

I visited Savill Gardens in Windsor Great Park in April of 1981 on an enchanted late afternoon--there were hardly any visitors there, and the bright day was gradually turning golden with late afternoon light. Long will I remember the bright pink petals of Magnolia campbellii floating down ever so slowly, and the streamside planted thickly with Lysichiton (camtchaticum over there, americanum over here) amid drifts of Primula denticulata and other early spring goodies....But what really dazzled me was how each dell and hollow was planted to its own subspecies of Narcissus bulbocodium...a brassy pale yellow one growing by the million in this clearing, a brilliant yellow dominating a meadow a bit further on. Seemingly dozens of kinds of hoop petticoats thriving and spreading into innumerable quantities, all growing completely happy, and in peak bloom. I am curious if there are not a meadow or two there for the late autumn and winter blooming white ones? I shudder to imagine a copse filled with one of the petunioides types!

Meanwhile, I am more than content with my little tufts here and there of some of the variations on this remarkable group of Narcissus. One day I must return to Savill Gardens--surely one of the finest gardens in the world. And perhaps one day I shall visit the heights of the Guadarrama, the Picos and the various Sierra where the bulbodocium section grows wild.


  1. For me Savill gardens is really under-rated. It the best place to visit in spring, their woodland gardens are amazing, they still do the mass plantings.

  2. We had a gorgeous spring day at Savill in 1992 - also had the place almost to ourselves. It was high rhododendron time! Time to go back (as our eldest just bought a condo in London.)

  3. Hmmm, Janet! How convenient to have sons buy condos in the most expensive cities...I've not been back to Savill since my first, really epiphanic visit. I doubt I've ever had a more magical time in a garden--except of course RBG Edinburgh and Hidcote and Kew and Ness etc. etc.


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