Golden stars: Alan Titchmarsh on growing miniature daffodils and narcissi
Go along in your local nursery or garden centre right away and you’ll find potfuls of them bursting into flower and able to be transferred on your garden or into tubs, containers and windowboxes to bring instant colour right as much as the home.
Without a doubt, the preferred variety is ‘Tête-a-tête’ with its nodding bright yellow flowers which can be often (but not always) carried in pairs – hence the name. The explanation this variety is so popular is that it’s incredibly reliable and keeps arising and flowering its socks off year after year, unlike a few of those massive daffs that appear to supply nothing greater than grassy foliage after many years. (It truly is usually the fault of shallow planting or spring drought – no chance of the latter this year).
I have three large tubs containing olive trees. They sit alongside my shed and to cheer them up just a little I planted ‘Tête-a-tête’ narcissi inside the surrounding soil a terrific seven or eight years ago. I do nothing to them, rather then watering the olives in summer and (after I remember) adding a drop of liquid feed – but that’s rare. Within the root-ridden earth the narcissi erupt each spring to offer me a flower show that i actually don’t deserve.
The other wonderful thing about dwarf narcissi is they suit the size of small gardens and aren’t bowed down by snow and rain as are the bigger daffs like ‘King Alfred’ and ‘Carlton’, which always seem martyrs to slug and snail damage.
The time to plant dwarf narcissi is in autumn, but all of us forget, often times, where the gaps are in our beds and borders, so buying about a which can be about to flower of their small pots straight away is a forgiveable sin.
It allows us to liven up dreary patches of bare earth.
When you plant them within the garden, do you should definitely set them deeper than within the pots (when the bulbs are almost level with the outside of the compost). Set them a great two or three inches deeper. Their leaves will extend and the bulbs will flower more reliably in years to come.
Seek out any varieties on offer. Among my favourites are ‘Little Witch’, ‘Jenny’ and ‘Jetfire’, and none of them will cost you an arm and a leg. If there are spare pockets of earth on your garden, don’t leave them of their sorry state: add just a little instant spring sunshine inside the sort of miniature daffs and narcissi. You’ll never regret it.
Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and each day within the Daily Express. For additional information on his range of gardening products, visit alantitchmarsh.com.