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Narcissus obvallaris

Narcissus obvallaris

A new spring-flowering bulb meadow is being established at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Road Field and one of the species of daffodils we have used is Narcissus obvallaris.

The Tenby daffodil is a great species for naturalizing in grassland and has stiff stems that bear very neat, golden yellow flowers in perfect proportions. Wordsworth described this species of daffodil as dancing, creating its own shaft of spring sunshine.

As the daffodils establish in the meadow they will produce a dazzling display in March when their neat, buttery yellow flowers emerge en masse.

Vital statistics

Common name
Tenby daffodil
Family
Amaryllidaceae
Height & spread
30cm (12in)
Form
Bulb (Division 13 daffodil)
Soil
Moderately moist but well-drained, fertile soil
Aspect
Any
Hardiness
Fully hardy in the British Isles

Narcissus

This genus of around 150 bulbous perennials is found in meadows, woodland, river silts and rock crevices in Europe and North Africa. Thousands of cultivars have been propagated for their attractive spring flowers and a few bloom in autumn or winter. Flowers may be yellow, white or, occasionally, green and number between one and 20 on one stem.

The family Amaryllidaceae derives its name from the genus Amaryllis which is named after the beautiful shepherdess of classical poetry.

The genus Narcissus is named after the beautiful youth of classical Greek mythology who became so entranced with his own reflection that he pined away and was turned into a flower by the gods. The word is possibly originally derived from an ancient Iranian language.

All Narcissus are grown for their attractive flowers, borne usually in spring, but sometimes in autumn or winter. There are thousands of cultivars.

Leaves are strap-shaped or cylindrical and 15-75cm (6-30in) long, depending on the species.

Flowers are borne on leafless stems, 1-20 flowers per stem, depending on the species. Each flower has six petals surrounding the corona (cup or trumpet), which can be flat or long and narrow. The colour is usually yellow or white, occasionally green, with some having red, orange or pink coronas. Some are fragrant.

Most daffodils are suitable for planting in a woodland garden, between shrubs, in containers or naturalized in grass and the smaller species are suitable for rock gardens.

Contact with the sap may irritate skin or aggravate skin allergies.
For horticultural purposes, daffodils are split into 13 divisions.

Narcissus obvallaris

The Tenby daffodil is a sturdy, yellow trumpet daffodil that flowers in early spring. It has erect, mid-green leaves up to 30cm tall, and stiff stems that bear neat, golden yellow flowers up to 4cm across.

Division 13 daffodils include all natural species, their varieties and forms, and this one is particularly good for naturalizing.

Obvallaris means 'apparently surrounded by a wall', and refers to the corona of this species.

Cultivation

  • Plant bulbs at one and a half to two times their own depth and 5-8cm (2-3in) apart in autumn, slightly deeper in grass and light soils.
  • For bulbs naturalized in grass, delay the first cut until the seeds have dispersed.
  • All Narcissus are prone to large narcissus bulb fly, narcissus eelworm, slugs, narcissus basal rot and other fungal infections and viruses. Forced bulbs may be damaged by bulb scale mite.

Propagation

  • Separate offsets when the leaves fade and replant in early summer.
  • Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe, in deep containers, in a cool frame. After germination keep them cool, moist and frost-free. Transfer seedlings to a nursery bed after two years and grow on until they reach flowering size, which may be up to seven years.

AGM

The RHS Daffodil and Tulip Committee awarded Narcissus obvallaris an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:

'Bulbous perennial to 30cm tall, with glaucous, strap-shaped leaves and solitary bright yellow flowers with flared trumpets and slightly paler perianth segments.'

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