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24 May 2024

The PLANTS project: Five favourite Brodie narcissus

Written by Philippa Holdsworth (North Team Manager)
A view of Brodie Castle in the background, with a grassy bank covered in daffodils in the foreground. A long stone wall runs beside a path that leads to the castle.
Daffodils in full bloom at Brodie Castle
While the PLANTS Project North team audited the garden at Brodie, the First Gardener selected five daffodil cultivars as some of his personal favourites.

The PLANTS Project North team have visited Brodie Castle in Moray three times since the early spring. This is a season of particular interest at Brodie, which is home to a National Collection of Narcissus, the genus that includes plants we know as daffodils and jonquils amongst others.

The collection at Brodie is based on the daffodil varieties bred by Major Ian Brodie, the 24th Laird of Brodie, between 1899 and his death in 1943, with interruptions for his periods of military service during the Boer War and the First World War.

Read more about Major Ian Brodie

But how do you select a top 5 from a collection of over 200 varieties? There is no better person to ask than Jonathan Barton, First Gardener at Brodie Castle, who takes care of the National Collection.

1. Narcissus ‘Coulmony’

This variety has chunky bulbs and leaves, making it easy and robust to handle. It also gets the season underway by flowering early. The work of developing daffodil varieties continued at Brodie after Major Brodie’s death – this is an example of a cultivar from 1957.

2. Narcissus ‘Elgin’

This variety has a particularly large bulb and is a tall plant. It displays a large, strongly yellow flower. It was developed by Ian Brodie in 1927.

3. Narcissus ‘Highland Rose’

Inevitably, someone who develops lots of daffodil varieties is not going to stick with white and yellow! Highland Rose is a beautiful white and pink variety dating from 1943. It is late-flowering and was still being shy when the PLANTS team last visited in April.

4. Narcissus ‘Wendy’

Every gardener likes to have some robust plants that they can always rely on to put on a show regardless of conditions. Jonathan describes Wendy as ‘tough and reliable’. Good old Wendy!

5. Narcissus ‘Fortune’

Major Brodie was one of only four daffodil breeders in the UK when he started out. When the collection belonging to Walter Ware was struck by eel worm, almost wiping out the Fortune bulb, he sent the four remaining bulbs to his fellow breeders; the one received by Major Brodie was the only one to survive. Many of the varieties developed at Brodie were bred from this last surviving bulb.

A mass of daffodil planting in the Playful Garden at Brodie Castle.

Plant Listing at the National Trust for Scotland (PLANTS) is the biggest horticultural audit project undertaken by the Trust and aims to celebrate, protect and better understand the flora and vegetation across our gardens and designed landscapes.

Read more about the PLANTS project