A daffodil ephphany

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Tue, 17 Apr 2007 11:03:52 PDT
I took a break today and drove down to the local bird food store: our
forty-seven sparrows were running out of food. We buy bird seed from the
Audubon Naturalist Society, which is domiciled in a nineteenth century
mansion on a forty acre wooded site about fifteen minutes away. For the most
part, other than trees and shrubs, the estate's gardens are a thing of the
past. But there is one area where winter aconites, snowdrops and some other
garden plants persist, and among them today I noticed some Ornithogalum
nutans and daffodils. I didn't recognize the daffodils, which is not
surprising because I only recognize perhaps about a hundred daffodils, if
that. And there is no reason to think that they are survivors of the
original garden. 


But something about them really got my attention. They were small cupped
daffodils, and but for color they looked just like Eucharis. 


In the past I never paid much attention to the distinction once made between
the Leedsii and Barrii daffodils: by the time I began to take an interest in
daffodils, those names were no longer used and were of historic interest, if
that. But if you read the old books, the books of eighty to a hundred years
ago, you will encounter the terms in most accounts of daffodils. These names
correspond to what we now know as Division 3 small cupped daffodils. The
Barrii forms were distinguished from the Leedsii forms primarily on the
basis of color: the Leedsii forms were mostly white or cream colored. One
reason the distinction died out is because over time it became blurred. 


Somewhere I read of daffodils which were known as "Euicharis flowered" but I
can't remember where I read this. Surely it was the Leedsii sorts which were


Thanks to the horticultural classification used for garden daffodils, even a
beginner can make a good start at sorting out the initially bewildering,
myriad, literally myriad, varieties of garden daffodils. Over the years I've
had waxing and waning enthusiasms among the daffodils: there was a white
trumpet phase, there was a cyclamineus phase, there was a poetaz phase and
eventually a poeticus phase and so on. But I never really experienced a keen
interest in the small cupped types. That is, until today. There is something
very elegant about these plants: the proportion of the stem to flower size
seems just right, and the proportions of the flower parts seem to agree with
one another particularly well. And in the modern sorts the color range in
this group is especially beguiling.  These might be the daffodils I choose
to grow old with.




Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7 where local fields, lawns and
wood verges are spangled with broad mats of spring beauties, violets and


My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/







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