A welcome sign of spring, the emergence of our national flower is always something to be celebrated. THOMAS FLETCHER reports.
THERE'S only one flower when it comes to celebrating being Welsh - the daffodil.
While the time to grow them for this spring may have passed, there's still plenty of wild daffodils out and about coming to bloom to enjoy.
For example, Gwent Wildlife Trust maintains two fantastic nature reserves which boast beautiful sights of wild flowers.
These can be seen at Margaret’s Wood, Wye Valley, and Springdale Farm, Usk.
But there's much more to the daffodil than just the flowers we see growing in parks and gardens.
Despite there being only 13 classifications of daffodil, each one is different from the last, with some known specifically for their fragrance, others for their ability to easily naturalise.
It’s these differences that allow for a wide choice when looking to implant some colour and life into your garden after winter.
The Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) recommends planting bulbs in well drained soil in sunshine in October in order for them to flower in the spring.
Bulbs should be planted two to three times the depth of the bulb in the soil and any foliage should be left on the plant until it begins to die away. Daffodils should be deadheaded by removing the faded blooms in order to help plant growth.
“Once planted, bulbs need simple cultivation,” Michael Fletcher from Vision 21 (Bettws Allotment project) said.
“Once the plant’s foliage begins to die, they must be fed with a simple fertiliser in order to for them to retain the necessary nutrients so that they can prepare to sprout again the following spring”.
Fortunately, bulb plants like daffodils are resilient in the Welsh weather. If growing in pots, ensure that they don't dry out during the growing period. The compost used should not be wet when you touch it but moist.
Remember, they will need adequate water while in growth and for several weeks after flowering. Bulbs are also susceptible to disease, so any soft bulbs should be discarded as soon as possible in order to increase the amount of successful daffodils you will have. This will apply to any variety of daffodils you decide to grow.
Most will be familiar with the common King Alfred daffodil that can be seen on grass banks in schools and local parks, but a more attractive variety is the resilient Narcissus ‘Tamar Fire’ which boasts double blooms and produces a ruffled look with spreading segments and a cup-shaped corona.
This daffodil is of sturdy growth, developing flowers of up to 7cm across with contrasting deep yellow on the outside and orange-red segments on the inner. If planting outside, be sure to look out for slugs, basal rot and narcissus bulb flies, which look similar to wasps.
A more fragrant daffodil, Narcissus ‘Dickcissel’ –known as Jonquilla and Apodanthus – produces narrow leaves with stems growing up to five flowers roughly 7cm across, with the plant reaching an impressive 50cm high. Apodanthus blooms in early spring, so you can be sure that you will have longer lasting daffodils in the spring months. These contrast ideally with other garden flowers, even King Alfreds, owing to their yellow petals and white centre.
Despite the beauty of daffodils planted in gardens and local parks, domestic daffodils remain a threat to wild daffodils - Narcissus pseudonarcissus – due to cross pollination, according to Tim Green, spokesperson for the Gwent Wildlife Trust.
Gwent Wildlife Trust advises to only plant domestic daffodils in gardens and away from any wild daffodil habitats in order to reduce this threat to wild flower populations.
So with the ease of cultivation combined with the radiant colours they produce, daffodils are not only a true symbol of being Welsh but also an excellent choice of flower.
Remember, you aren’t restricted to just planting in flower beds, as they can easily be grown in container pots and brought into the house too to brighten it up if the traditional Welsh weather fails to bring a pleasant Spring.