Time For a Few Daffs

There was a time when I had a lot of daffodils.  I’m working on that.  It’s not because a lot of daffodils is a bad thing, it’s because they do need a little care here and there and this gardener has been slacking in that regard.  So in an attempt to mend my ways I’ve been culling the herd lately, trying really hard to convince myself that I don’t need hundreds of varieties and that maybe just one hundred might be enough.  I have to do it fast and without much thought.  No composting either.  I tried that with the tulips and it just ended up with tulips everywhere the compost was spread.

daffodil williamsburg red devon

‘Williamsburg’ and ‘Red Devon’, two keepers.

My garden just isn’t big enough to do daffodils the way I’d like to do them.  I want big clumps full of flowers but how many of those can you fit in without crowding the masses of snowdrops also planned?  Something has got to give.  When a friend first led me (willingly of course) into the world of yellow fever I thought I’d just try a few to see what I really liked and what did well here, and then just back off… and I suppose that time has come.

daffodil curlew

‘Curlew’ doing well along the street and ushering in the late season daffodils.

Two endlessly rainy summers and some garden drainage issues helped immeasurably.  At least half the clumps out back have disappeared completely, which to me says they were more prone to basal rot anyway… maybe… so no need to replace those.  Today I plan to go out, ID a few clumps which have lost their tags, and then shovel prune a few more.  Even after starting this process last year I just want to reassure you that I still have and will have plenty.

daffodil cassata

‘Cassata’ looking exceptionally orange this spring, thanks again to the cool weather.

I find that once they’re gone there are only a few I ever miss.  Not a big problem.  The other reason gardeners are usually so generous with their plants is for just that reason, a friend can always pass a piece back when you need it.

daffodil dress circle

‘Dress Circle’ is a favorite.  It’s always done well here, crowded or not.

So here are a few keepers.  They also need digging of course, but I’ll save that for June when they’re dormant and I can divide and replant.

daffodil kedron

‘Kedron’ has an overall orange tint that I really like.  It’s one of the few affordable versions of this color combo.

daffodil mrs ro Backhouse

One of the first “pinks”, ‘Mrs RO Backhouse’ needs some photoshopping these days to keep up with the newer pink varieties, but she’s a keeper anyway and always reminds me of the friend who gifted her to me.

daffodil modern art

‘Modern Art’ is frillier than I prefer, but my friend Tim just loves all these overdone daffodils so I’ll keep it to show, just in case he ever visits 😉

daffodil american heritage

I think this daffodil is ‘American Heritage’ although it came to me misslabeled.  It will look cooler as the cup fades to more of a pink… and also a better spot with better soil and more space won’t hurt either…

daffodil coral light

An unknown but still loved double daffodil next to ‘Coral Light’.  Of course both of these are right in the middle of one of the new yet-to-be raised beds.

daffodil altruist

‘Montego’ looking nice as the shrubby dogwood ‘Midwinter Fire’ spreads through it.  I’d consider digging this one, but the dogwood is all in there and… I would dig it to toss, it’s just too “leafy” for my taste.

… and of course there are two other things I just can’t not share.  Primroses are loving the cool wet.

primula auricula

I’m still disproportionately proud of the primula auricula which has yet to be killed.  I did grow them from seed after all.

And a first bloom on a purchase from Edgewood gardens.  Two years after buying a tiny pot of gravel, the little root inside has developed into an amazing Paeonia daurica.  I love it.

paeonia daurica

Ok, so I already loved the foliage on this when it was smaller, but now that it’s big enough to bloom… even better.  I may rip out a hosta or two to make more room for it 🙂

So even with freezing mornings and snow squalls rolling through there’s still plenty to be enjoyed in the garden.  Work?  Sure.  But if this is what I can get by being lazy, imagine how amazing things will look after a little care and attention.

Who am I kidding.  Two years of drought or some other new pestilence on the horizon will surely turn everything back on to its other ear and we’ll be back to square one again.  It’s a fun distraction though, and I hope this week you’re enjoying your own garden distractions as well.  The cold will end.

28 comments on “Time For a Few Daffs

  1. March Picker says:

    Amazing selection, Frank. Let’s hear it for garden distractions! I would be very proud of that lovely peony as well.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! Yes the garden as a distraction is an excellent way to deal with the extra time on our hands. I honestly don’t know what other people do…

  2. I am not so sure the cold will end. It seems to keep going on and on. Your collection of daffodils are great. I stopped buying them some time ago because they keep multiplying and I don’t have room either. I wouldn’t mind having tulips popping up here and there though. I got a bunch of wild onions popping up horrible where I spread some mulch. I don’t put wild onions in the mulch but some must have sneaked in somehow. So that is what I have been fighting lately. Good luck with demolishing your daffodils. Maybe Mother Nature will help you.

    • bittster says:

      I hate those wild onions. They just seem to materialize again with just as many as I pulled out the year before, and just never go away. They never look too bad, but they are ALWAYS there.
      Mother Nature has already done a good job of killing off half the daffs. A change in the grading next door has put more water onto the bed, and big swaths have disappeared, but the rest will be up to me. I think I can do it, I’m feeling ruthless after clearing most of the tulips out of the vegetable beds, but I have to admit I’ve been eyeing daffodil sales lists lately. I feel like it’s justifiable to buy just a few new ones if I can be so strong as to get rid of the less-than-favorites.

  3. Your garden is so far ahead of mine! I still just have the relatively early daffs in bloom–the King Alfred type were first, then Jet Fire, and now Fortissimo has just started. I have Kedron too and really like it, but it won’t open for a couple weeks yet. Is it possible that unknown double is ‘Tahiti’? I had some for a time, and I think that’s what they looked like! If you want a home for any you dig out, I will just throw them in a narrow trench along the edge of our woods under a bunch of leaves, and they’ll probably flourish!

    • bittster says:

      I already have a few daffodil clumps which have your name on them. Even if you just bury them in mulch without digging, it’s probably a better future for them than they will have here!
      Glad to hear spring is working its way up there, even if it is slow to move. Did you plant any tulips last fall? The warm weather yesterday colored up a bunch here, so they’re just waiting for a sunny day to open up.
      I don’t think the double is Tahiti, it’s a little smaller flower and the color is a little different.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    I don’t mind the cold as it is perfect for working without the bugs biting and getting too hot, which makes me miserable and lightheaded. Pooh!
    I wish I had all your daffodils. I used to have a lot, too, but I’m horrible at dividing them, so I get clumps with no to few flowers or they fade out altogether. Every year, I pledge to do something about it, but June comes and I forget all about them when there is so many other lovelies to gush over.
    Your primrose is wonderful – impressive that you grew it from seed!

    • bittster says:

      Heh heh. Deep down inside I’m planning on digging crowded daffodils now and just getting rid of them. Maybe there will be new daffodils showing up on the doorstep this fall! 😉
      I have too many as it is, and to see them come up each spring, crowded and not flowering, is more guilt than I care to deal with when the days are warming and all the rest of the garden is growing and flowering!
      Yeah and I need to do it now. If I wait till June I won’t even remember where the clumps are!

  5. Deborah Banks says:

    I don’t understand why you haven’t moved yet to a nice old farmhouse with 15 or 20 acres. You were born to have a bigger garden.

    • bittster says:

      Ugh. The compromises which you make.
      I always wanted and thought I needed acreage, but when I look at how neglected some of the parts of the garden are now, I kind of think that might not have worked out either. I would love more room, but I guess focusing on gardening intensively rather than extensively isn’t the worst compromise.
      Of course on the other hand I’d love a grove of white birches underplanted with masses of seed grown, white peonies, and a field of colchicums in the fall, and sheets of snowdrops in the spring, and a ditch filled with primula japonica 😉
      Oh and an arboretum full of magnolias….

  6. Pauline says:

    You have an amazing collection of daffodils, I too must dig up non flowering clumps and split them.I don’t think you can beat their lovely flowers which tell us that spring is on its way. Mine have now finished for another year, now waiting for the alliums to flower!

    • bittster says:

      The alliums are just showing buds here. My favorite giant globes seem to have disappeared after too much rain, but the others look as if they’ve multiplied. They are definitely a cool thing to look forward to! It always amazes me how fast the seasons fly by.

  7. Cathy says:

    How nice to have too many daffodils. I don‘t think that will:ever happen in my garden!

  8. Cathy says:

    Oh, and I meant to say how pretty your Primula is you grew from seed. 😃

    • bittster says:

      They need some attention, repotting, fertilizing… I have done them wrong and yet they still look beautiful, I think I need to try starting a few more!

  9. johnvic8 says:

    A wonderful display, so colorful and diverse. I am not jealous. I am not jealous. I am not jealous. Well, maybe…..just a little. Thanks for sharing.

    • bittster says:

      I suspect some day soon you’ll be sneaking a few bulbs into the mulch beds out front! -and just keep in mind, my patch is nowhere near the quality of your plantings. There are weeds everywhere and no complementary plantings, so remember that when you’re getting a little tired of four walls and few places to go!

  10. Cathy says:

    ‘Shovel prune’ is a terrific expression! I adore ‘Mrs R O Backhouse’ and ‘Dress Circle’. I don’t grow them but you’ve given me ambition (Mrs Backhouse is a ‘classic’, isn’t she?) And I’m sure you’ll save that lovely one next to Coral Light when you make your new beds! Send some cool damp weather over here!

    • bittster says:

      Those are three keepers! For as ruthless as I try to sound, there are more than enough sentimental friends mixed into the plantings 🙂
      Mrs R O Backhouse dates to the 1920’s I think. Definitely a classic, although I just saw a 1962 cultivar referred to as a classic, and that date is getting a little too close for comfort!

      • Cathy says:

        Too true – I have a daffodil here that I ‘stole’ from an old walled garden behind where I lived in Buckinghamshire, England. It came to France with me. I have no idea of its name, but it says ‘1920s’ to me when I look at it, and that’s enough. A treasure that someone else used to enjoy many, many years ago!

  11. Jason Kay says:

    A beautiful selection. I don’t know why I’m surprised we don’t have some varieties in common, thoughsome certainly look pretty similar. Is ‘Dress Circle’ one of the Narcissus actaea Poet daffodils?

    • bittster says:

      You would think ‘Dress Circle’ counts as a poet, but according to the classification guidelines the poet division is really restricted to the original poet colors and size. ‘Dress Circle’ is considered a ‘small cup’… maybe the cup isn’t flat enough, or the yellow is too bold, or green is missing… I don’t know…

  12. Chloris says:

    You have a wonderful selection of daffs. . But too many? I can’t imagine having too many, they are all lovely. And of course anything you grow from seed is doubly precious. Well done on, such a pretty auricula. Your peony looks just like my Paeonia mascula.

    • bittster says:

      I think the problem isn’t too many daffodils, it’s that I’m slightly bored with some of them and want different daffodils! So as long as I’m digging, rather than divide old ones I can just add new ones 🙂
      I think Paeonia mascula and Paeonia daurica are nearly identical, but from what I found, daurica has fewer leaf divisions and mascula has more? Sounds like they’re distinct, but the experts are still trying to firm down the reasons why they are distinct.
      I’ve been obsessing on something yellow. My Molythewitch seedling has an awful lot of purple pigment in the leaves, and I don’t think it will bloom yellow, but then I saw a photo of P. wendelboii and I love it. Absolutely. Love it.

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