Daffodils are among the mainstays of the spring garden and lift our spirits with thoughts of the warmer days ahead.
Known to gardeners for over 2000 years the ancient Greeks and Romans had poets singing the praises of these much-loved flowers, and we all remember William Wordsworth's poem that begins ...
"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils; ..."
Since the 16th century English botanists have been interested in daffodils thus many new beautiful forms have evolved and are now common in our gardens.
The most famous of the daffodils would be King Alfred, bred in the late 1800s by John Kendall, an English solicitor, who is credited for this cross between the Emperor and Maximus varieties of daffodils.
If you are contemplating growing daffodils for the first time the most important task is soil preparation which should ideally start in November in time for planting out bulbs next autumn.
I suggest you try to include some of the older and better known varieties such as King Alfred, Van Sion, Cheerfulness, Paperwhite, Twink and Avalanche in your selection as these are hardy, adaptable and long lasting and will quickly naturalise if left in the ground.
Plant early-, mid- and late-flowering types to ensure an extended flowering season.
Daffodils, being tough, can be grown in the open garden or containers.
They do however, require good drainage to thrive for many years.
A slightly heavier, loamy soil is perfect for their successful cultivation.
To achieve the best results trench the ground down to about 50cms and thoroughly incorporate into the soil well-decayed manure, compost or leaf mould.
Never use fresh animal manures.
A mixture of wood ash, lime and blood and bone in equal amounts is an old, but reliable, fertiliser recipe for daffodils.
February, March and April are the months to plant your daffodil bulbs.
Plant them three times the depth as the bulb is high with the pointy end facing upwards.
For the best effect plant five to six bulbs in a group leaving around 12-15cms between groups.
Apply a suitable low nitrogen fertiliser at the first sign of leaves because by this time the reserved food supply will have been used by the bulbs and must be replaced.
Don't allow the flowers to die on the bulbs but remove them as they start to droop because if left they will produce seed and exhaust the bulb which will show this by producing poor flowers, or none at all, the following season.
Daffodils look great planted in sweeping drifts, woodland and meadow gardens or massed under deciduous trees and shrubs.
Plant bulbs of the same variety at a uniform depth to ensure the same height and time of blooming and, as Wordsworth wrote you too can ... "dance(s) with the daffodils".
September 14-15: Launceston Horticultural Society's 'Early Spring Show' featuring daffodils and camellias at St Ailbe's Hall, Margaret Street, Launceston, Saturday 2pm-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm.
September 17: Australian Native Plant Society, Max Fry Hall, Gorge Road, Trevallyn, 7.30pm. Mark Wapstra will speak on the Tasmanian botanist R C Gunn.
September 17: APSTAS North West, St Paul's Church Hall, 15 Thomas Street, East Devonport, 7.39pm. Ian Hutchinson to speak on establishment of native gardens.
September 18: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, 8pm. Speaker is Mark Hay of Allan's Garden Centre.
September 21: Westbury Garden Club's Spring Flower Show at Westbury Town Hall, Lyall Street, 1.30pm-4pm.