Early daffodils? Don't leap to conclusions

A A A

It ain't necessarily so: if spring flowers are appearing remarkably early in your garden, it's not always because of climate change (although it may be).

Several recent letters to The Independent have highlighted examples of plants flowering early, and many have suggested a perfectly valid reason: it's what some varieties do naturally.

Daffodils are a perfect example. The daffodil is usually thought of as the archetypal spring bloom, and the poet A E Housman (author of A Shropshire Lad) called it "The Lenten lily, which dies on Easter day." But several cultivated varieties of daffodil flower naturally before Christmas, while some wild species can flower as early as October.

Two of the best known are Paper White, and Rijnveld's Early Sensation (often known as just Early Sensation). Both are out now.

Paper White is a wild species from Greece and the eastern Mediterranean islands such as Crete ( Narcissus papyraceus) and a good place to see it is the rock garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

"We've got about a dozen clumps of it," said Richard Wilson, Kew's Collections Manager for Alpines and Bulbs. "We don't plant it out as an amenity – it's in a naturalistic setting, although they are perfectly suited to any garden." He added that the bloom this year was early, but made the point that it had been known to come out in early November.

Early Sensation is a cultivar – a cultivated variety – rather than a species in its own right, and it too is now in full flower, according to Leigh Hunt, horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society.

"It's a very early variety, and it's been opening its buds since before Christmas," Mr Hunt said.

However, even gardening experts were surprised when Early Sensation joined Paper White in massive displays of blooms in early November at the Eden Project, in Cornwall.

Although some daffodils and narcissi can naturally flower even earlier – a species called Narcissus serotinus from Morocco can come out in October, Mr Wilson said – it remains the case that many well-known varieties are flowering much earlier than 15 years ago, in a way that seems consistent with a warming climate.

Kew's most spectacular daffodil display is a case in point – the dense swathes of rich yellow flowers which line the Broadwalk, the road linking the Orangery to the Victoria gate.

These are the February Gold variety, which in the past, Mr Wilson said, seemed a misnomer, because the flowers typically appeared in March. But now they were misnamed the other way, he added, as they were tending to come out in January.

"Ten to 15 years ago we were lucky to get it flowering in February – it was usually March," Mr Wilson said. "These days it flowers in January so you can really see the difference. It's flowered in January quite consistently for the past few years."

February Gold is just coming up at the moment along Kew's Broadwalk. So is another daffodil – the English wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudo-narcissus .

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker