The Reliable Narcissus and Galanthus AKA Daffodils and Snowdrops
Dad instilled within my heart the love of the earth and the love of gardening. My fondest childhood memories are of working side by side with him in our Southern California garden tending the roses. When we moved to the South I was amazed at all of the marvelous perennial bulbs that are so prevalent – especially in rural gardens. In fact. You can tell where a homestead once stood when driving by wooded areas by the clusters of narcissus, Galanthus, Helleborus and Hemerocallis (Daylily) growing freely. Dearest and I rescued hundreds of Narcissus – Daffodils, Jonquils – several years back from an old plantation site before it became a granite mine site. There were so many, we could have covered our whole garden. I love the reliable Narcissus and Galanthus AKA Daffodils and Snowdrops.
Winter gardens in the south are made beautiful by the lovely Helleborus. These lovely perennials remain green throughout the year and reward the gardener with whimsical, drooping blooms in the winter. This is a time typically when the garden takes a rest. With the amazing Camellias Helleborus lengthen the bloom season in Southern gardens.
The Long History of the Love of Narcissus
Not only has the many forms of Narcissus been loved for their beauty in the garden, these are also known for their use in medicine. Native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa, Narcissus, long-lived bulbs, grow simply by multiplying and to some extent by pollination. These were brought to the Far East in the tenth century and became popular in early American gardens. Over the years Narcissus has been hybridized creating numerous varieties.
The Care of Narcissus
The best thing to do is to leave them alone, let them do what they do. After the flowers have faded allow the green foliage to die away. This provides nutrients for the blooms to come. If they become unsightly, you can wrap them together or braid the foliage allowing other plants to take center stage.
Drops of Sunshine
When I see these beauties blooming in my garden, they remind me of drops of sunshine by their cheerful, bright yellow coloring. Narcissus, however, are not all yellow. There are many varieties to include white, pink and green in the flowers. Some white Narcissus are easily identified in garden centers by their names. The yellow varieties are more commonly known as Daffodils or Jonquils.
What I have found is that these flowers also have a lovely fragrance. I’ve noted that the smaller the flower, the more lovely the fragrance.
Don’t combine Narcissus in flower arrangements with other flowers. When cut, the Narcissus produce a sap that will damage, clog other flowers from absorbing water and nutrients. This sap can also be irritating to the skin. You can, when cutting the daffodils, curtail the sap from dripping by holding the blooms and stems upside down until you place them in water. As with all flower arrangements, they do best with daily fresh water. On their own, they make lovely arrangements.
There are fewer varieties of these sweet little flowers, basically because they are all white. Their lovely white blooms can have little drops of green. Galanthus means ‘milk white flowers’. These lovely flowers are also native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa. They have been made quite popular in gardens over the years with their whimsical late winter blooming nature.
Because of their reliability and ease in naturally growing under various conditions, Narcissus and Galanthus have become very popular in gardens in most growing zones. I lived in the north several years back and adored Tulips, but they are mostly considered annuals in the South. You’re fortunate if you get more than one, two or three years from Tulip bulbs. Daffodils are so resilient that they are widely cultivated for gardeners. I love these sweet, little blooms. I look forward to them every year. They bring joy and color to my late winter, early spring garden. I think if you add them to your garden, you’ll come to love them as much as I do.