Posts Tagged ‘daffodil’

Daffodils with perfume

September 7th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Narcissus 'Actaea'

Many people love daffodils. A few people hate daffodils. But most of us like some daffodils and not others.

I’m a big fan but there are some daffodils that drive me mad. The ones whose trumpets look as if they’ve been hit by a brick, for example, and also the big blowsy yellow ones, like good old ‘King Alfred’ – when they’re planted in the grass along a country lane. They just look so out of place! In a container, or in a clump on a colourful spring border, ‘King Alfred’ looks great. But please, if you want to plant some daffs by your village name sign, choose a variety that looks a little more natural – best of all, our native British wild daffodil.

The other thing about our wild daffodil is that it has a lovely fragrance and that’s a daffodil feature that we tend to forget. Some are scented, some are not. Wouldn’t you choose a fragrant variety if you could? And for a container, where it’s easier to get your nose close to the blooms, or when you want to cut some for the house, fragrance is a huge bonus.

The strongly scented ‘Actaea’ (above) is one of my favourites in pure white with a tiny yellow trumpet edged in red plus a neat white zone between. ‘Geranium’, with its vivid orange cup, is similar. The dainty, and usefully late flowering ‘Hawera’ in primrose yellow is lovely crowding a terracotta pot as is ‘W. P. Milner’, with its straw coloured flowers that fade to white. And all with that lovely daffodil fragrance.

September is planting time, better get those bulbs ordered.

Winter and summer at Chelsea

May 23rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Hellebores at The 2018 Chelsea Flower Show!

One of perennial challenges for Chelsea exhibitors is to hold back early flowering plants so they come to their peak at the Show, weeks or months later than normal, and to force late flowering plants into an early display.

The past master of all this is Johnny Walkers with his regular display of daffodils, held back in a cold store for the big day. Staged at the last possible moment, and the massed ranks of perfection completely replaced half way through the show as they wilt in the heat, it’s always a treat. Awarded a Gold Medal, of course.

But this year we have an even more amazing display: a whole exhibit of hellebores (above). Hold on, don’t they flower in January and February? Well, yes! Three months after their peak in the garden, Ashwood Nurseries from the West Midlands are staging a whole exhibit of their own amazing varieties in a huge range of colours and bicolours, single and double.

The plants had been in a cold store since October and removing them at the right time and bringing them on to ensure that they look their best – and look natural – at the Show is a real art. The display won a Gold Medal, of course, plus a special award from the President of the RHS.

And then, at the other extreme, there are the dahlias (below). I’ll be planting mine, grown from Mr F’s tubers in pots, later this week. But the Plant Heritage National Dahlia Collection, from Cornwall, have these summer and autumn specialities at their peak in full flower for the Show – now!

Again, they don’t look forced, they look natural… And at three months before they’ll be at their best in the garden, huge credit goes to Jon Wheatley for bringing them forward to perfection on the day and winning a Gold Medal.

This is what’s special about Chelsea. Exhibitors devote vast amounts of time, energy, expertise, ingenuity – not to mention expense – to bring us something special. And they inspire us all.

* The Chelsea Flower Show on TV today: BBC1, 3.45pm, Angellica Bell. BBC2, 8.00pm, Monty Don and Joe Swift.

Dahlias at The 2018 Chelsea Flower Show.