For many, daffodils epitomise spring; historically they symbolised chivalry and new beginnings.  Today for many of us daffodils represent hope.

The quintessential daffodil is often pictured as bright yellow in colour, with a trumpet shaped flower, but in fact the daffodil has a long history of extensive breeding and consequently today there are a huge variety of daffodil flower colours – yellow, white, orange, pink and green, and many different flower types, and sizes of daffodil available.  Indeed there are over 30,000 names in the Royal Horticultural Society Daffodil Registration Database.  All daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus; they are part of the Amaryllidaceae family, which also includes snowdrops and Alliums.

White Daffodil

Daffodils are wonderfully versatile; they can be grown successfully in containers, flower beds and borders, parks, meadows and grassy areas, banks, slopes, woods and orchards.  Daffodils are very resilient and come back each year, heralding the start of spring, with no need to lift and replant.  Rodents and squirrels leave daffodil bulbs alone, which is a real boon if you suffer with these pests!  Thriving in a sunny or partly shaded spot, they are very easy to grow and can be propagated by seed, division of the bulbs and chipping.

I utterly adore scented daffodils and revel in their delicious fragrance each spring. Narcissus ‘Fragrant Rose’, named as its fragrance is reportedly similar to that of a rose, has a delicious scent which although it does have a definite rose character to its fragrance at times, the scent essentially reminds me of the sweetness of hyacinths.  If you enjoy the heady scent of hyacinths and jasmine, you may also enjoy growing Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’, Narcissus ‘Geranium’, Narcissus ‘Sweetness’ and Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’.  These daffodil varieties have all been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit and are superb daffodils that I just couldn’t be without.  These scented varieties, and indeed all daffodils, make ideal cut flowers and a wonderful gift.

Narcissus 'Bridal Crown' is a double daffodil from division 4 of the Daffodil Classification System.
Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’ is a double daffodil from division 4 of the Daffodil Classification System.

Daffodils can bring hope to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, as the plant compound galanthamine can delay the onset of symptoms.  Trials found that daffodils grown under stress at high altitude in the Black Mountains in Wales produced more galanthamine than those grown under normal conditions.  Narciclasine, another compound present in daffodil bulbs, may be used in the future to treat aggressive brain cancers; studies have also suggested that compounds found in daffodils could help treat Leukaemia, skin and ovarian cancer and depression.

White Daffodil

August and September are an ideal time to plant daffodil bulbs; early planting gives sufficient time for the roots to get established before the cold weather sets in, but spring is the ideal time to make your selection as daffodils are in flower.  Visit botanical gardens now to see different daffodil varieties in bloom, inhale their scent and get an idea of their character. Many gardens will even have a handy plant label marking the daffodil blooms, so you can take down the names of your favourite varieties, and order bulbs to plant later in the year.

Many different varieties of daffodil can be enjoyed at RHS Garden Wisley, at The National Trust’s Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming, and Nymans in Handcross, West Sussex.  West Dean Woods near Chichester has a large colony of wild daffodils; it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a working woodland, and a private estate, so access is restricted; however a public bridleway running along the western edge provides an excellent vantage point to view the daffodils.

This article was first published in the March 2015 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Daffodil Articles

Daffodil Trials

To read my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial Report, please click here.

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To read my Scented Daffodil Trial 2017 Report, please click here.

Daffodil Information

For information about beautiful scented daffodil varieties, please click here.

For information on using daffodils as cut flowers, please click here.

For more information about daffodils and daffodil societies, please click here.

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For information on places to buy daffodil bulbs, please click here.

For information on florists selling British grown, seasonal cut flowers including fragrant daffodils, please click here.

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