Look! The first narcissi of the season – commonly known as daffodils, although the hooped petticoat varieties look somewhat different. These have just the cup with 6 very narrow, spiky petals forming the skirt. It is the pale lemon ones that flower so early. The more common, bright yellow N. bulbocodium come considerably later in the season.
The foliage is narrow, described as grassy. While sometimes recommended as a good option for naturalising in grassy meadows or on banks, we would beg to differ. It is too hard to pick the foliage and emerging flower stems, which makes it difficult to do a late autumn trim on the grass. Without that trim, the narcissi can get swamped by competing growth. We use them in the rockery and along the edges of paths or walls. They are quite happy on the side of the stony drive. Good drainage is the key – they hail from south western France, Portugal and Spain.
These dainty narcissi are like slug magnets, as you may be able to see in the photo. After being somewhat relaxed about the munching varmints in the off-season, it is a call to action before the bulk of the winter and early spring bulbs come into bloom, offering a veritable smorgasbord.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.