Planting Daffodils for a Splash of Gold in Your Garden
I believe that most of us, even though we may never acknowledge it, have an almost emotional attachment to the narcissi, or theas they are popularly called. No other flower is associated in quite the same way with the pleasures of spring, and the variations to be found within the genus are such as to attract the interest of gardeners with many different tastes.
The eleven divisions into which the genus has been classified by international agreement, based on the formation and colour of the, is an indication of the diversity to be found within the genus and I shall later deal with each of these divisions in their correct sequence. For the moment, though, I want to consider more practical aspects of daffodil growing and to place them in the garden scene.
For naturalising in grass, I think it will be generally agreed, the daffodils have no peer. They are just as at home, too, when planted informally in borders, among shrub plantings, around rose bushes – this is a use for them which may disturb some rosarians but which I find gives rose beds an interest at a time of year when they are necessarily stark and bare – or arranged in martial rows in formal beds. All the dwarf kinds are, of course, eminently suited for rock garden planting and the full range can be grown inor in the home. This versatility and much grace and beauty gives the narcissus family a unique place in our affections.
Planting Daffodils Outdoors
Generally speaking, planting daffodils is not difficult – daffodils are extremely tolerant of widely differingconditions but at the same time there is no doubt that rich soil with plenty of body in it will produce the best results: if the soil is in rather poor condition I add a dressing of bonemeal or hoof and horn meal at the rate of 4oz. to the square yard at the time when the ground is being prepared. Well-rotted farmyard manure can be used, too, if it is placed in the lower spit of soil, well below the level of the bulbs; but everything considered it is probably best to rely for extra nourishment on the fertilisers mentioned above. Deep digging is a prime requirement for good results.
If there is a choice, then make the plantings in a sunny, open position, but if semi-shade it has to be then it will still be found, other things being equal, that the results are quite good. Drainage must be satisfactory to avoid rotting of the bulbs.
Plant as early in the season as possible, which means August in practical terms, but if necessary do this up to the end of November if circumstances demand it. The advantage of early planting is that the bulbs are out of the ground for the shortest possible time-which is much to their advantage-and they have the longest possible growing period in which to reach maturity. Where permanent plantings are made it is best to leave the bulbs alone until it is obvious that overcrowding is affecting quality. They can then be divided in the autumn, offsets being removed and planted in rows in a reserve bed to grow on into flowering size plants.
In grass, it doubtlessly saves time and trouble to use a special bulb planting tool if more than a small number of bulbs is being planted. Elsewhere I would always use a trowel, for with this handy tool it is easy to make sure that no air space is left beneath the bulb, which can easily hold back strong initial rooting and affect the establishment of the plants.
When planting daffodils, especially the larger daffodils, 4 to 6 in. is the recommended planting depth, those plantings made in heavier soils being set rather less deeply than others in light soils. The dwarf daffodils or narcissi are planted 2 to 3 ins. deep and these need a rather grittier rooting medium with sharperthan their more robust relatives.
When daffodils are used as bedding plants they must be lifted immediately after flowering to make way for summer bedding plants and this means that they have to be moved to a reserve plot in another part of the garden to complete their growth and ripen the bulbs. By late June, with the foliage withered, they will be ready to lift and store in a cool, airy shed until planting time comes round again after another couple of months.