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Dazzling Daffodils

April 14, 2020

Contributed by Jon L. Peter, Curator & Plant Records Manager

Daffodils, the genus Narcissus, are prized plants for historical, ornamental and economical importance. This is group of plants demonstrates a huge diversity in flower forms and colours, with potentially over 25,000 unique daffodils in existence.

Always a welcome addition in spring, most of our daffodil offerings are concentrated at Rock Garden with highlights of them throughout all cultivated spaces. Of note is a very interesting display of the 13 Divisions of daffodils which can be found at the entrance to Laking Garden.

Across all gardens, we have recorded over 33281 individual daffodil bulbs representing 99 taxa (unique types) planted throughout the landscape, with likely thousands more undocumented. The concentration at the Rock Garden features 20990 individual bulbs representing 66 taxa and a wide range of historical (‘Rip van Winkle’ circa 1884 and ‘Thalia’ circa 1916) and many newly introduced varieties (‘Watch Up’ circa 2016 and ’Color Run’ circa 2015).

With the ongoing pressures of deer in our cultivated spaces, we have converted many of our seasonal display beds from the traditional tulip displays to daffodils. The tulip bulbs, foliage and flowers are a favourite food for deer and other critters. Daffodils however are not as appetizing as all parts of the plant are toxic to humans and animals. The seasonal display beds filled with daffodils makes for a stunning show and using daffodils instead of tulips has an added benefit. Since daffodils are hardy and perennialize/naturalize well, once the spring display is complete, the daffodil bulbs are dug up and repurposed to ‘permanent’ locations. This is one of the ways RBG are trying to be more sustainable in our gardening approach while continuing to provide abundant beauty throughout our collections and gardens.

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