Monday, October 11, 2010

Paper White Narcissus, Jonquils, and Daffodils



Looking outside Monday the sparkle of rain drops glistened in the morning sun with such magical beauty it was difficult to imagine the torturous weeks before. Overnight the powdery dust had disappeared and the winter grasses sent tiny up shoots under the woodland trees. To be without rain for weeks and finally receive it makes one relish the sweetness of nature’s reprieve.

With the garden finally damp, bulb planting should be on the agenda as the timing now is perfect. The bulbs planted now will be the first to arrive at the garden party next spring, bringing with them the excitement of the coming season. In choosing bulbs pick Paper White Narcissus and some Daffodil and Jonquils in early, mid, and late blooming varieties for a longer show.

Many of our flowers are named after Greek myths, the lovely Narcissus being one of them. Named for the legendary Greek youth who was so enthralled with his own beauty he became forever fixed looking at his own reflection in a pond, the flower lives up to the myth. Paper White Narcissus, with multiple delicate and sweet-scented flowers to a stem, are a 'must' for early gardens. Plus, Paper Whites purchased today will be waiting in the cupboard to be ‘forced’ for the upcoming holidays. (Allow a four to six week wait for forced blooms.)

Both the Jonquil and Daffodil are members of this royal family as well and the two are easily distinguishable. The Daffodil has a long trumpet, the Jonquil a short one rising from the flower circle of six petals. The old fashioned and predominately yellow Daffodil easily adapts to naturalization and will survive nicely almost anywhere in the garden landscape, each stem providing one lovely flower, multiplying over years into a stunning show. The Jonquil comes in a vast array of color, and hybrids of late have given us a pale pink in addition to the entire spectrum of yellows. Since they all bloom before the arrival of leaves, they may be planted under trees that would block sunlight for later blooming flowers.

Select large healthy bulbs, free of mold with nice tendrils of root growth and plan to plant in groupings of three or more. Plant three to four inches the height of the bulb, root down, cover and pat them in, water well and then wait for spring. Following blooming allow the foliage to dry naturally; it sends nutrients through the leaves to the bulb to insure next years flowering. As the leaves begin to fade many gardeners tie or braid the stems together to create a tidier look in the garden. All of these early flowers do well in arrangements and are a sweet scented breath of spring when displayed in a vase. Combined together, they are spectacular!