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4 Mar 2022

Golden trumpets of springtime

Written by Chris Wardle, Gardens & Designed Landscapes Manager, North-East
A host of golden daffodils, with deep yellow trumpets, grow beside a grassy bank at Brodie Castle. In the distance a large white bunny model can be seen lying on the bank.
Daffodils in bloom at the Playful Garden, Brodie Castle & Estate
Our North-East Gardens Manager celebrates one of our best-loved flowers.

William Wordsworth put it best: ‘If one daffodil is worth a thousand pleasures, then one is too few.’ As we start to pull away from winter, the simple joy of this yellow trumpet flower will brighten our spring days.

The wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) is an incredibly hardy and beautiful flower. It grows across the British Isles, from the Isle of Wight (where it is harvested in early February) to the famous bulb fields of Angus and Fife (where it blooms as late as May). The latest I’ve ever seen daffodils flower was on midsummer’s day at the Cairn o’ Mount in Aberdeenshire.

A close-up view of a cluster of bright yellow daffodils, whose trumpets and petals are the same shade of yellow.
Golden daffodils

The daffodil originated on the Iberian Peninsula and has been known since ancient times. Many thousands of cultivars have been created. The bulb is poisonous to eat but it has other uses: it contains galantamine, a compound known to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Commercially grown bulbs in Wales (where it is the national flower, of course) are supplied to the pharma­ceutical industry for this purpose.

The National Trust for Scotland has some amazing places to see daffodils. Try Brodie Castle & Estate near Forres, which has a National Collection of daffodils; Branklyn Garden near Perth, where small botanical gems can be found amid the rock gardens; and Threave Garden near Dumfries, which is carpeted with blooms each spring. Many other Trust places also have fine displays of these golden flowers in their grounds, which are at their best as Easter approaches.

Expert spring gardening tips from Chris

  • Plant tubs of herbs early. Keep them close to the kitchen for easy harvesting when you’re cooking.
  • Spread a well-rotted mulch of compost or leaf mould around the plants as they emerge. This keeps weeds down and feeds the plants, so you won’t need commercial fertiliser.
  • Make your patio safe and slip-free by scrubbing away any algae that has grown there over winter.

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