I love collecting old plants, and the most fun part of this endeavor is to find interesting plants growing in unexpected places and figure out what they are.
This spring I invented a game. The daffodil game.
The object is to find as many old fashioned daffodil varieties as I can while they’re still in bloom, and then identify them by name. The larger purpose here is to figure out which types are the most hardy and naturalize the best. After planting thousands of daffodils over the years, my success rate is still hit or miss. Some varieties come back stronger every year, while others peter out after awhile.
Like in any game that’s fun, there are rules:
1. The only daffodils that can be in the game are ones I find growing either on abandoned sites or places that have reverted back to the wild- spots that are unlikely to have had any recent attention from a gardener.
2. To be included, daffodils must be naturalized in clumps at least four feet wide. What I’m looking for are the kinds of bulbs that will multiply well over time.
Daffodil season is short, and this year it’s also very early. Most varieties are already finishing blooming. I could have used more time to hunt, but I did end up finding some interesting plants.
The image at the top is an old variety called ‘Horsfieldii’, from 1845. I found it in the park next to an old cellar hole, just above the site of one of the famous Fairmount Park Hermit’s Caves from the 18th century.
This one is called ‘Lucifer’, from 1890, and I found it on the grounds of an old private arboretum, since turned over to the park. It’s very rare. Where the perianth joins the corolla reflects a fiery, devilish glow.
This daffodil isn’t very rare at all. It’s called ‘Carlton’, from 1927. Very sweet.
And here’s a mystery-
There is a very large patch of these daffodils in the woods near that cave I mentioned. The star shaped flowers are quite delicate and very fragrant. They look like a primitive version of the popular daffodil ‘Thalia’. Any ideas?
We had a great time, the daffodils and me. But Daffodil Game is almost finished for this year. Now comes the long wait until it can be played again.