‘I wandered lonely as a cloud…..’
The first line of one of the English languages most famous poems published in 1807 by the wonderful William Wordsworth was about Daffodils.
Fast forward into modern times and we are still as in love with the same beautiful yellow Spring flowering plant as Wordsworth was all those years ago.
The Narcissus gets its Latin name from the Greek word ‘to benumb’, this is in reference to the narcotic properties the plant holds.
The name Narcissus is also often linked to Greek mythology;
Narcissus the vain hunter, son of the river God Cephissus, was known for his outrageous beauty. He became so obsessed with his reflection in the river that he lost his will to live, fell into the river and drowned. Legend tells us that a single Narcissus or Daffodil sprung up from exactly the spot where Narcissus fell.
While us ‘horty’ types like to refer to plants by their sometimes tongue twisting Latin names, some plants are much better known by their other, generally easier to remember and pronounce names. The well-known name Daffodil comes from ‘affodell’, a variant of ‘asphodel’ which is a genus of popular garden plant. The reason for the addition of the D is thought to be unknown but we do know that from as early as the 16th century this vibrant little plant was known as ‘Daffadown Lilly’ and ‘Lent Lily’.
When we see Daffodils start to raise their sleepy heads, we can be sure that Spring has well and truly arrived. The carpets of yellow that seem to adorn every roadside, garden, park and open space around us, shows me that we as a nation certainly love our Daffodils!
There are literally thousands of hybrid varieties of Daffodils, some flowering as early as January/ February and others flowering late into May/June so no longer is this little yellow gem subjected to only raising its sleepy head for a few weeks of the year we can enjoy it for many months in fact.
At Thorp Perrow we have around 110 different varieties of the wonderful Daffodil. These can be seen lining our stately avenues, carpeting our meandering glades, and littering the floors of the woodland within the Arboretum. We hold some incredibly interesting, rare and unusual species and varieties within our very sunny collection. Springs Wood dates back to medieval times and within this wonderful little historic woodland a species of Daffodil known as Narcissus barrii conspicuous has been found growing scattered within, this lovely little small cupped Daffodil was introduced to us by the Victorians and is known to pre-date 1869, a real Veteran.
We also have sways of our original native wild Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, Wordsworths very own dancing Daffodils, growing within Springs Wood and other areas of the Arboretum. This wonderful little flower has pale yellow petals and a darker yellow trumpet, it is in danger of disappearing from our countryside due to hybridisation, something that we should all take seriously. Of course, not forgetting the subspecies Narcissus obvalliris or the Tenby Daffodil, this little gem is our traditional looking Daffodil, bright, vibrant yellow petals that hug a large sprightly yellow trumpet.
I have to say though my favourites are a little more discreet, I am in awe of the delicate nature of the Narcissus bulbocodium that peep up from the long grass on The Mound with their bell like trumpets, not to mention the quirkily quaint Narcissus cyclamenius with its swept back petals designed to show off its long trumpet that finds itself hidden in amongst the Arboretum for people to discover.
From mid-March we have our Daffodil trail running, at no extra cost you can follow our map around the Arboretum and see the most fantastic vivid display while learning a thing or two about Wordsworth’s ‘fluttering and dancing’ Daffodils.#
Photo credit – Thorp Perrow