narcissi

Having always disliked the very overbred large yellow trumpets of the daffodils planted under the fluffy pink cherry blossoms next to the cricket ground in the Yorkshire village where I grew up, it has taken me a long time to trust to the idea that some narcissi can be really heart-achingly, soul-scrunchingly, headily gorgeous.  Last autumn, after having previously included only tentative plantings of narcissi at the flower garden - rows of Thalia and Pueblo, inoffensively pale and sweetly scented - we went all out and filled an area of grass roughly one tenth of the size of the garden with thick plantings of mixed narcissi radiating out from a central bed.  We'd spent much time absorbed in bulb books and catalogues to find the most decadent and enjoyable flowers.  Now those flowers have all started to come up, and they are just like heaven: white Trepolo with five orange stripes like a star at the centre; lots of kinds like Articol and Apricot Whirl, which make fluffs and frills of peachy petals; tiny scrunchy richly perfumed Bridal Veil, so pretty and quite an old variety; airy light Prom Dance, pale lemon coloured flat little trumpets within creamy petals; crazy bold and bad taste Tahiti and other brilliantly coloured frilly kinds, which are helpful in a mixed bouquet to highlight the delicacy and loveliness of the more romantic varieties.  Sadly, the tiny slugs which abound at present are finding the narcissi heavenly, too, and we have to pick quickly to avoid the disappointment of munched holes and malformed petals as the little delicacies open up.  At this time of year, when all is fresh and new and the light is bright and clean, and we are feeling full of hope and spring, I can think of nothing nicer than the huge jugful of massed narcissi on our kitchen table, lovely from all angles and challenging my preconceptions with the seemingly endless variations in form and colour of the delicious daffodil.