In a Vase for Monday – a bunch of daffs

Narcissus in a vase

Narcissus tete-a-tete with jonquils

I rarely manage to participate in Cathy’s In a Vase on Monday meme, but sometimes I feel sufficiently inspired to make a modest contribution. As you can see I am a founder member of the “plonked naturally in a jam jar” school of flower arranging.
Although my small bunch of “daffs” may not have great artistic merit, apart from their intrinsic beauty, they are filling the house with the most sublime perfume.
Narcissi are the stalwarts of the cottage garden from February to May. Tete-a-tete is always first to flower and was the first bulb to be planted in the cottage garden. It came from my garden in Worcestershire along with the jonquil (alas un-named) which also appears in my vase.

Narcissus tete-a-tete with jonquills

Narcissus tete-a-tete with jonquills

In the orchard and the cottage garden the cyclamineus narcissi, Little Witch, Jack Snipe and Jet Fire, are already fading, but the triandus varieties, Hawera and Thalia are still to flower. There are also other un-named daffodils which flower year after year in the cottage garden which delight the eye and perfume the air regardless of their unknown provenance.
More delicate species are cosseted in the alpine house until we have sufficient stock to try them in the garden. N. bulbicodium will be planted out this summer, and if it flowers it will be a delightful addition to the garden. N. assoanus was planted in the garden last year, but it will probably take a little while to establish. This also came from my last garden, but I am not sure whether it will flower this far north. A native of Spain it needs a good summer baking to flower, not a regular feature of Hebridean summers. However, N. canaliculatus is reputedly also difficult to flower, but seems to produce some flowers every year despite the rigors of our climate. Sometimes the plants don’t follow the rules, so it is always worth a try.

The Optimists Garden

Cottage Garden at Croft Garden Cottage

The cottage garden in February and July

When the start of the year is wet and windy and the croft garden is repeatedly battered by 70-90 mph gales, I should really declare the cottage garden out-of-bounds. A walk round the garden on a cold blustery afternoon in early February is enough to depress even the most optimistic gardener. There are times when I really begin to doubt whether any of my plants will survive. The primroses do their best to add a glimmer of hope but when I see the first bright yellow blooms of Narcissus Tête-à-Tête I know that Persephone will return.Narcissus Tete-a-Tete
By mid-February the days are beginning to lengthen and a gift of high pressure from Scandinavia heralds an early glimpse of spring weather. Still too soon to tidy up all the dead stems, but time for some weeding and taking a peek to see if there are any signs of green shoots. By the end of the month the bulbs are emerging from hibernation and as the equinox gales approach I grow anxious as to whether they will survive. Although they may be buffeted by the storms they are amazingly resilient.
In its sparse simplicity my spring garden can not rival the sumptuous drifts of spring flowers of more southerly gardens but for me every flower is a triumph of hope over adversity.