I set out to see if I had representatives of all the 13 different classifications of narcissus varieties. Today it is the Tazetta daffodil and a tribute to the breeder of the very lovely ‘Avalanche of Gold’, William R. P. Welch who died in February at the age of 61. First the classification. This is a showy category, defined as ‘usually three to twenty flowers to a stout stem; perianth segments spreading not reflexed; flowers usually fragrant’. I have several and was tempted to feature the well known ‘Minnow’ or ‘Silver Chimes’. But ‘Avalanche of Gold’ won the day. A spectacular garden plant, photographed here on 22nd March, it has a spicy scent and between eight and fifteen flowers to each stem. Growing and selling his bulbs in Santa Cruz, Bill ‘Bulb Baron’ Welch seems to have been quite the character as his orbituary demonstrates. He was a witty man and a bright one, winning several major chess championships. His bulbs were his ‘bildren’. Given that the bulbs take up to seven years to raise from seed, he had a work ethic as well as wit. In 2019 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Daffodil Society. The image is of Bill taken from the society’s webpage.
We are all familiar with images of hepaticas in close-up to reveal their almost unnaturally perfect symmetry. They lend themselves to posed shots. Indeed I have posted one myself a time or two. Given their almost unnatural cost you’ll not see too many sprinkled through the typical suburban garden here in the north of England. Candidly you’ll not find many in my borders either but here is one scarcely attended pot that features miniature narcissus, a hardy fuschia, whatever annual takes my fancy and four hepaticas, three in full flower on a chilly, blowy Mother’s Day. It brightens up a spot that at this time of year only gets an hour or so of morning sun. They flowered last year and are healthier this.
The only ingredient hepaticas lack is fragrance so let me recommend a sweet smelling beauty I’ve featured before, one of Bill Welch’s introductions from 1986. ‘Avalanche of Gold’ is sensational. Imagine a bulb that provides up to fifteen small though not insubstantial flowers per stem and up to four stems at that. Add a sturdy quality that stands up to gales and clumps up readily and we have daffodil heaven. Every garden should have them. And have I mentioned the fragrance….