Narcissus ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’

Words: Ben Dark

A tall and fragrant double flowered daffodil bearing up to six primrose yellow flowers on each stem. ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’ does not fall over as soon as it gets wet and does not look like an exploding canary, so it trumps almost all the other double flowered daffs.

  • Height: 45cm
  • Flowering Time: early April
  • Best for: Holding its own in deep borders.

Narcissus ‘Lucifer’

Words: Ben Dark

What was the greatest invention of the Victorian era: the train, the telephone or Narcissus ‘Lucifer’? I’m fighting the daffodil’s corner because the flowers with their large well separated perianths remind me of windmill sails and because the dark orange ringed cup is so striking. Apologies Messrs Bell and Stephenson; but it is an extremely pretty flower.

  • Height: 40cm
  • Flowering Time: mid April
  • Best for: planting in old orchards

Narcissus papyraceus

Words: Ben Dark

Also known as the paper-white this is a peerless daffodil for indoor growing. The strongly scented lemony-white flowers are miniscule, but each stem holds over a dozen and they open in succession providing a long lasting display.

  • Height: 60cm
  • Flowering Time: November-December (indoors)
  • Best for: out-classing poinsettia on the Christmas table.

Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus

Words: Ben Dark

A late flowering scented species daffodil sometimes known as the old pheasant’s eye. The aroma is warmer and deeper than that of many of the later selectively bred varieties, and would make a strong argument for its inclusion in any garden even before the flower’s pretty red eyed and white faced appearance was taken into account.

  • Height: 55cm
  • Flowering Time: early May
  • Best for: Damp grassland where it can rest undisturbed.

Narcissus bulbocodium

Words: Ben Dark

An inherently comical plant, the trumpet of the hoop-petticoat daffodil flares out like a foghorn while what thin petals it has waggle above like useless vestigial arms. This good-natured and unusual species will seed about prettily if given the right conditions.

  • Height: 12cm
  • Flowering Time: mid to late March
  • Best for: Naturalising in damp turf

Narcissus cyclamineus

Words: Ben Dark

This tiny species daffodil has a long thin trumpet from which the petals sweep back at such an extreme angle that the whole flower head resembles one long tube. To me clumps of N. cyclamineus always resemble a shoal of squid in swim, which is why I like them. But those less enamoured by cephalopods can admire them for their elegance and eccentricity.

  • Height: 12cm
  • Flowering Time: mid March
  • Best for: Planting in an alpine garden where they can be admired without competing foliage.

Narcissus ‘Thalia’

Words: Ben Dark

If any bulb has earned the right to narcissism it’s this. The multiple pure white flowers hang pendant-like, while the elegantly reflexed petals sweep upwards, giving the whole flower the look of having parachuted down from the clouds.

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flowering Time: late March
  • Best for: Planting at the front of a border where it can be easily admired.

Narcissus Hawera

Words: Ben Dark

This daffodil combines the scented cup of the Jonquilla daffodils with the elegantly reflexed petals of the Triandrus types. The excessively long tube between the ovaries and the petals holds the multiple flowers away from the stem and makes them look like a swarm of dragonflies.

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flowering Time: early to mid march
  • Best for: planting at the front of borders, these bulbs have thin reedy foliage that does not make too much of a mess when dying back.

Narcissus Tahiti

Words: Ben Dark

An eye-catching daffodil for people who don’t like daffodils. All hints of trumpet and perianth have been subsumed by ruffles on the fluffy double flowers, but the rich orangey-red of some of the inner layers gives each bloom an inner fire and saves them from resembling indistinct yellow blobs.

  • Height: 40cm
  • Flowering Time: mid April
  • Best For: Showing off. If you’ve grown a showy bulb don’t lose it in the long grass.

Narcissus ‘tête-à-tête’

Words: Ben Dark

The most well known, and the most frequently grown miniature daffodil, and justifiably so. It is durable, vigorous and well proportioned with up to three yellow flowers borne on each of its vibrant green stems. An early and welcome sight in any garden.

  • Height: 22cm
  • Flowering Time: late February
  • Best for: small pots on outdoor windowsills and garden tables.

Narcissus Jumblie

Words: Ben Dark

This daffodil always looks in a state of confused disarray with the flower heads all facing in wildly different directions. The random alignment of the blooms makes a clump of them blend into a frothy mass and reminds the observer just how regular and regimented most daffodils are.

  • Height: 20cm
  • Flowering Time: late March
  • Best for: Hanging baskets; its short sturdy stems can take quite a battering.

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s early sensations’

Words: Ben Dark

The name sounds like a fjord gaining consciousness, the flowers are conventionally trumpet shaped and the colour is an unremarkable yellow, but this is one of most useful and heartening daffodils available. It flowers very early, it’s almost always out by Christmas, and because of the colder temperatures it seems to last an age. In my opinion a far better cure for SAD than a desk-top sun lamp.

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flowering Time: mid December
  • Best for: combating mid-winter depression

Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’

Words: Ben Dark

Always in flower to welcome in the New Year. This pretty little daffodil’s petals sweep forward and seem to hug its deeply ruffled trumpet, giving the head a pleasing bell shape. Once established this delicate looking plant proves remarkably tough, often flowering for months and repeatedly rising triumphant after being flattened by frost or snow.

  • Height: 20cm
  • Flowering Time: late December
  • Best for: Shaded easterly facing borders

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Words: Ben Dark

Wordsworth’s original golden crowd. Muse of the poets and a true British native, the Wild Daffodil will happily naturalise in grass, flowerbeds and hedgerows. It is not as prolific a flowerer as some of its offspring, but compensates with its stamina.

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flowering Time: late March – April
  • Best for: Planting beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Narcissus Bell song

Words: Ben Dark

A frilly, multi-headed, sweetly scented pink daffodil. If it wasn’t so good at it, you would accuse this plant of trying to do too much. The pendant flowers are long lasting and their delicate appearance belies the vigorous low maintenance nature of this bulb.

  • Height: 30cm
  • Flowering Time: early April
  • Best For: Forcing indoors where their fragrance and looks can be appreciated at close range.

Narcissus ‘Suzy’

Words: Ben Dark

The most brash of the scented Jonquilla daffodils, with a deep orange corona surrounded by geometrically triangular yellow petals. Rewards planters with a sweet spicy fragrance on warm spring days.

  • Height: 40cm
  • Flowering Time: mid March
  • Best for: Planting in large containers where it can be closer to nose height.

Narcissus viridiflorus

Words: Ben Dark

Not for the faint-hearted or the dilettante this bulb is extremely hard to grow, but those who succeed will be rewarded with a truly odd, and weirdly sinister looking daffodil. Its cup, reduced to a mere stub, is surrounded by a collection of spidery petals that are all a uniform dark green. The whole flower looks like the cap that attaches a tomato to the vine.

  • Height: 25cm
  • Flowering Time: October-November
  • Best for: Impressing passing botanists