Dainty dwarf daffodils – and they’re scented too

August 25th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Narcissus 'Minnow'

You can often buy a sack of mixed – sometimes very mixed – daffodils on the market at this time of year and in spring you can buy a bunches of classic yellow daffs at the market, the supermarket and even by the side of the road. But are these what you really want? Same old, same old…Why not opt for something altogether more subtle, more stylish even? And with a delightful fragrance.

Dwarf daffodils are as tough as the big and blowsy types, but their dainty look and the intriguing colours and bicolours of so many mark them out as ideal to grow in clumps in spring borders or in rows for cutting. And they won’t blow over.

I’m going to plant a whole 1.2m row of ‘Minnow’ (above) and a whole row of ‘Hawera’ next month so that I’ll have plenty to cut. They’re lovely in spring posies with forget-me-nots. Both are dainty multiheaded types, ‘Minnow’ with white flowers with yellow cups and ‘Hawera’, invaluable for extending the season into May, with soft yellow flowers. Both reach about 20cm, both are beautifully scented.

Sensing a theme here? Yes: multiheaded varieties with clusters of small fragrant flowers. They’re my favourites. They never overdominate, they go with so many other flowers – and there’s the scent. ‘Baby Boomer’, a brighter multiheaded yellow jonquil reaching 25cm, is another you might like to try.

So, how to plant them? In borders, plant in clumps of six to a dozen, fifteen even, depending on the scale of the planting Set each bulb two bulb widths from its neighbour, this will tell you how wide a hole to dig. Remove soil to five times the depth of the bulb, fork in soil improver to bring the depth to three times the bulb depth when firmed.

Set the bulbs in place (point end up, please…), cover them, firm gently and mark the area with short pointed sticks – so you don’t dig them up by mistake. If you’re planting a row, use the same basic approach staggering the bulbs in a double row.

Then sit back and wait for spring. But get your order in soon before stocks run out.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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