Narcissus, Tazetta daffodils

Narcissus Erlicheer

The genus Narcissus divided is into twelve divisions or classes, covering both daffodils and what we call jonquils. The jonquils are classified as 'Tazetta daffodils', with clusters of small cupped flowers on each stem (ht 30-40cm), which appear in winter in our Sydney climate. The sweet faces of the classic 'Soleil d'Or', with its orange central cup surrounded by yellow petals and its haunting fragrance, are always welcome to brighten up the garden. Our sense of smell is connected to memory in a powerful way, and each time I inhale the perfume of these flowers in winter, I am immediately transported forty years back in time to my grandmother's garden in country NSW, where these bulbs grew luxuriantly.

Narcissus Soleil d Or

'Erlicheer' has double-formed, creamy flowers and a lovely scent. 'Silver Chimes' has single creamy flowers, and 'Avalanche' has soft yellow single flowers. The old-fashioned 'paper whites' are categorised as Narcissus papyraceus, a species found in the wild in the western Mediterranean. Suited to growing in large pots or planted in clumps, jonquils are reliable performers in Sydney's climate, more so in many areas than the rather unpredictable larger-flowered daffodils. Plant them out in autumn about 8cm deep in rich, well-drained soil in full sun, adding some fertiliser to the soil before planting. Give them regular feeds of Aquasol or other soluble food as the leaves appear and again after flowering. Don't cut the foliage off until it has completely shrivelled, as this is the time that the bulb is storing food for the following year's growth. The bulbs should be allowed to dry out after the foliage has died down. Every few years, the clumps can be divided up in autumn. They make very good cut flowers.

According to current thinking, this genus belongs in the family Amaryllidaceae, which includes many popular bulbs for Sydney gardens - see list at left.

Flowers in June, July, August.