Daffodils are among the very best of the fall bulbs. Their bright yellow and/or white blooms are a much-loved, sure sign of spring’s arrival, and their hardiness and ability to survive year after year, increasing their flower numbers annually, is a real bonus too. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate daffodils into your landscape.
The number of daffodil varieties available today in the trade is stunning. There are literally thousands. They are divided into twelve different classes called divisions, based mainly on the differing characteristics of the flowers.
All daffodils are species or hybrids of the genus Narcissus, which are native to Europe and the Mediterranean. Daffodils can bloom as early as February and as late as May, and can range in height from four all the way to twenty inches.
If you have ever seen daffodils growing “wild” in a field in spring you have witnessed one of the best settings to enjoy them. I remember a field along Cambie Road in Richmond where I walked to work that was absolutely beautiful each spring. It stood out as a last bastion of a disappearing lifestyle as the cars raced past. That particular field has, of course, been paved over, but you can create your own daffodil meadow.
Plant them around the outside of your lawn, or create a naturalized landscape in a less formal area of the property. Planting bulbs in an existing lawn can be done, but remember that bulb foliage must to allowed to ripen after the flowers are finished.
This means you can’t cut your lawn until this happens and it will no doubt start to look shaggy. Use large groupings of bulbs when naturalizing and don’t plant them out in straight rows. There are few straight lines in nature.
Daffodils and perennials were made for each other and should be used together more often in borders and beds. The daffodils provide colour in the early spring when the perennials are just waking up after winter. Then, while the bulbs go into their less-than-graceful again phase, perennials like hostas, daylilies and coral bells take over and hide the yellowing foliage of the daffodils. Now is the perfect time to walk around the garden and take note of where spaces in your flower beds could be filled next spring with daffodils.
Daffodils combine nicely with the purple blooms of aubretia and arabis in spring, or try a white variety planted with evergreen groundcovers like vinca or arctostaphylos. Plant the bulbs and the groundcover at the same time and you’ll have a winning combination for years to come.
Another great combination which can be planted now is daffodils and pansies. The darker colours of the pansies look spectacular against the yellow daffodils come spring. The bulbs can be planted eight inches deep, the pansies will settle nicely over top, and next spring your garden will come alive with colour.