Beauty … and Disappointment

On my way to the Priory, I sometimes drive through the handsome downland village of Glynde.  And at this time of year, I often stop to admire a walled enclosure by the church.

The long-established planting of daffodils en masse …

… is terrific and something I am trying to emulate at work.

Solo wondering whether we're going for a walk up the drive or what?

I’ve still got a long way to go as it is a very, very slow process.  I have planted over two and half thousand daffodils at the Priory (and about fifteen different varieties) and every one has gone into turf.  Some, such as these ‘Ice Follies’ are (in their third season) doing pretty well in establishing themselves.

It’s a pretty daffodil; white with a pale yellow trumpet.

‘February Gold,’ planted here in partial shade, on the east lawn, is also establishing itself well.  (Photo taken in early March).

But daffs planted (goodness only knows how long ago), in the kidney beds, are putting on a better show.

The annual mulching of these beds obviously pleases them.   Each year, I mean to lift and replant them all elsewhere in the garden.  Once they have finished flowering, there is an awful lot of daffodil foliage hanging around – not a great look in a border.  But I can’t quite bring myself to do it; they put on such a fine show.  Perhaps this year I’ll lift them … and perhaps not.

In the foreground are three groups of ‘St Patrick’s Day.’

A pale butter yellow, this variety is also increasing year on year; again they seem to do better in partial shade.

Around the west pond, somebody went to quite some trouble, once-upon-a-time, to plant a ring of mixed daffodils.  I’m afraid I don’t know the varieties and I won’t hazard a guess …

… but backlit with morning sunshine, the name doesn’t seem so terribly important, does it?

But I can’t like some of the ‘pre-me’ daffs.  Double daffs are, in my opinion, the perfect example of gilding the lily; a ruination of all that is perfect and simple and right with the flower.  Thankfully there are not too many of them, and while I wouldn’t pull them up (or stomp on them), I do throw them a disapproving glare as I walk past.

At the base of one of the big oaks,  amongst some naturalised snowflakes, is a more welcome resident, though sadly it produced only one flower stem this year.  Again, as it pre-dates my time I can’t tell you the variety name.

So, we have plenty of beauty in the Priory gardens at the moment but there is also a big disappointment – the meadow.  I planted several hundred bulbs, of various varieties, here eighteen months ago and …

Looking across at the meadow – April 2011.

…  while they flowered well last year (their first), this year there is barely a flower to be sniffed at.  I am hoping that they are garnering their strength for the future, and will put on a better show in 2013.  That has been my experience with other daff plantings that fail to perform in their second year.

Thankfully my favourite flower, the Snakeshead fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), is going great guns in the meadow and there are hundreds of nodding heads; both in its usual chequerboard form and …

… the white.

Elsewhere, in exciting daffodil-breaking news, Narcissus ‘Cragford’ is flowering strongly …

… as is the lovely, dainty ‘Pipit’ …

… and my favourite daffodil; the coy, the modest, the exquisite, ‘Thalia.’

Three hundred of them on the east lawn haven’t started to clump yet, and each bulb is, mostly, only sending up a solitary flower.  But when the flower is so charming, delicate and perfect, well, who cares?   I can forgive it almost anything.  And I may just have to plant several hundred more.

28 thoughts on “Beauty … and Disappointment

  1. I do agree about the double daffodils, keep up the good work and be brave and dig them up from the border, you’re right daffodils are much nicer naturalised than in beds. Christina


    • Hi Christina, I think that the nays have it with regards doubles. Which pleases me. And I know that the ‘bed’ daffs should go and one year, when I’m not digging new borders or doing mass re-arranging of planting, I will get round to it. I suppose. Dave


  2. ‘Thalia’ is my fave too! 🙂 Closely followed by ‘February Gold’ which I call my favourite daff, because I don’t think there’s any way anything as elegant as ‘Thalia’ can be called a ‘daff’.


    • You are a woman of great taste, Libby. And you’re quite right. Daff, sounds almost derogatory. I just got a little bored of writing ‘daffodil’ out in full so many times. Dave


        • Ah, OK. Sorry, I hadn’t picked up on your distinction, and no not weird. I have planted some N. bulbocodium (not that they flower – at least, not since their first year) and you wouldn’t call those daffs. You’re quite right re FG and Thalia (and actaea) – I shall resist calling them daffs in future. D


  3. Just takes time. Your garden will one day rival the church’s garden, but it will take lots of time. Your daffodils are beautiful (even the doubles!), and I love the checked petals of the fritillaria.


    • I just wonder, Holley, whether the Priory daffs will attain that look in my lifetime. Petra at Oxonian Gardener did a post recently re her gorgeous display of daffs. But I was disheartened to read that they were planted in the 1930’s! Ho hum. Dave


  4. Hi Mr Anxious and thank you for the pictures and your writing as usual! My, you were up early with the frost on the lawn! My daffs are a bit sad in my front garden, advice needed!


    • Hmm. I’ve often thought, Tracy ‘Fellwalker’ Evans, that those old silk daffs in a milk bottle let the side down a tad. My advice? Plant some real ones, for pity sake. No charge for advice. Kind regards, Mr Anxious.


  5. A great deal of beauty indeed–even the disappointments still have hope for next year written all over them (which isn’t the same as a glorious display this year, of course). I sometimes wonder if bulbs get so wonderfully beefed up by the breeders that they need a year to rest up and “normalize” afterward. I agree about the doubles, which seem so out of character for daffs, but love the ‘”February” Gold’ with that windswept look–like a dog out for a ride in the car with the windows down. Or something. Beautiful macros, as always.

    An inch of snow here this a.m.


    • Yes, Stacy – I shall blame the breeders, after all it won’t have been anything that I did wrong, now would it! The description of February Gold is perfect and made me chuckle.
      An inch of snow must look very pretty in your garden, I think. Did you make a snowman? Or an igloo? And I do hope you put on your yaktrax? Dave


  6. Ooh I wish I gardened in a priory.
    Daffodils are next to impossible here (Calgary). Fortunately in-“my soon to be home”-Blue Moon Farm country its a different story. In the nearest very small and cash strapped town the parks director saved up his pennies for daffodil bulbs. Then he sweet talked the guide leaders in to having their troops plant them in swathes all over town. Looks lovely , we just need ten times more.


  7. You have some very nice pics there! That Cragford looks really nice and scented, doesn’t it? I totally agree with you about double flowered daffs, they look like scrambled eggs to me. The second picture is just amazing, I wish they could have something like that at the Priory one day, maybe they should change their actual gardener with one that get flowers from daffs also the second year…


  8. If you’re ever tempted to dig up & discard those double daffs, feel free to send them my way…I love ’em.
    I’ve seen some amazing varieties this week including one with pale yellow & white stripes on the back of the petals, no idea of name but quite unusual. Thank goodness I’m only working in small gardens, think planting that many would kill me…well done you…great show!


    • Stripy daffs? Don’t think I’ve seen those, Jane – sound intriguing. I figured someone must like double daffs otherwise why would they sell them? It seems you’re the reason! But sadly, I have to say, with regret, you’re wrong. Sorry. Dave


  9. I just love mass planting of daffs. We’ve just come back from a weekend in Yorkshire and there were some beautiful displays. I don’t think we appreciate just how many it takes to create such effects. Bulb planting isn’t one of my favourite jobs so the prospect of planting thousands wouldn’t thrill me but your hard work will pay off. Completely agree about over breeding of daffs, well any flower come to think of it. Simpler forms are much more beautiful. Double flowers are useless for pollinating insects as well.


  10. The garden is looking fab with all those daffodils in bloom. I’m with you on the doubles. Hopefully it will be even better next year when the slow performers come up to the mark.


    • Here’s hoping Bridget. I deadhead all the daffs every year but I notice that at Glynde they don’t. I wonder whether it is really worth doing – though I shall continue to do so. Dave


  11. If it’s any consolation my mum and hubby both prefer small clusters of daffs and other Spring bulbs to mass plantings. You should have heard my mum ranting about people planting too many bulbs too close together the other day. The priory has displays of daffs to please everyone. 🙂


    • It was hard work, Elaine but spread over three autumns and with the radio playing loud, pop tunes it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t plant any last year but it might be time to start perusing the catalogue soon! Dave


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