SINCE THE DAFFODIL season lasts six weeks, if both early and late varieties are included in the garden, it is not surprising that every year, without exception, there is gnashing of teeth.
From mid-March to May we are found to have some of the most unsettled weather of the year. There are certain to be days of cold wind and a touch of frost on still bleak nights. We can count on several hot days as well, and any daffodiis opening then will promptly wilt and flag.
Every year some will have poor tex-ture, or short stems, or the scarlet will come orange, not red, or the petals (supposed to be like white kid or refined beeswax) will be full of slight ribs or have a puckered finish like crepe. A certain number of stems will be snapped, or some flowers will be flattened and then mud-spotted.
So every year, without fail, the dirge goes up. It has never dawned on gardeners, and still less on daffodil fanatics, that chancy weather means chancy flowers. And you have only to read a couple of decades of yearbooks on the daffodil (in which you may find the most concentrated of ill-humored weather complaints in the world) to realize things are no better and no worse in England or Ireland than here.
I will spare you, therefore, a litany of disappointments in this year's daffodils and say simply that on Apil 23 I had a handful of the most beautiful flowers imaginable.
There is a pink-crowned white flower, 'Passionale,' which is, not to split hairs about it, supremely beautiful. Beside it, the well-known 'Account' looks course and unworthy of cultivation, even though it has a splend did firm perianth.
Another flower of ultimats beauty is the white trumpet Rashee,' which with (Word Illegible) has always been distincity small and not likely, therefore, ever to win any major prizes at a show. It is more beautiful, however, than 'Vigil' or Empress of Ireland.'
Something got into Easter Moon' this year, causing its stems to be much too tall for the side of the flower. One bloom, however, was flawlees. This was an excellent year also for 'Easter Morn,' a variety more than 50 years old now; it's a white with short white cup and great refinement. Certainly nobody would plant it nowsdays (for one thing, it is not in commerce, but it is pleasent when a very old daffodil quite surpasses itself.
All daffodil nuts know the refinement brought to white daffodils (the short-cupped whites) by 'Silver Coin'. One of that type, 'Silver Saiver' always did especiallywell in myformer garden, and sometimes I took wicked pleasure in showing a bloom to someone whose newer and better whites were not all equal to it.
The lemon daffodil with a white cup, almost a trumpet, called 'Daydream' has been without blemish this year for me. Mine are always on the small side, but this year perfect. The hound sat on two, giving me an excuse to cut them.
A rather large white with a shallow rose-madder crown called 'Coral Light' has outdone itself this year. I have never seen that particular color in a flower. It is soft but assertive and the cup has a deeper red rim, quite astonishing. It would have won something in a show if the show had been 10 days later.
Always there are years in which some flower like 'Coral Light' blooms finer than you have ever seen it. I like those years, and in them I can recapture the excitement of the fellow who bred the flower and who could not believe his eyes when it first bloomed for him in great perfection.
'Double Event' is a ball-shaped flower of white with light yellow segments scattered among the white petals. Almost every year it comes perfect, on firm fine stems.
The double canary yellow with scariet segments called 'Tahitl' always is astonishing, and flawless. It has everything except an ultimate beauty, which escapes it.
Both 'Falstaff' and 'Ceylon' are yellow with medium-large red cups, and both are sunproof -- the red does not fade or bleach.
Of the two I prefer (Coylon.' though there is not much to choose. With me it is a trifle smoother, the pose of the flower is a trifle better, and to my eye it is just a bit more beautiful. And yet I remember well the years I longed for 'Falstaff and could not afford it. One bulb produced 16 flowers in its third spring.
Two small-flowered daffodils, 'Piptt' and 'Mockingbird' are alike in having white cups against yellow pertainth. 'Pipit' is paler, more delicata, while 'Mockingbird's is a strong lemon and showler.
I always woudered what happened to 'Arbar', a white flower with a red cup, which I once saw in complette icagntficence about 20 years ago in a friend's garden. With me it was always wonderful but never quite perfect. In my new garden I assumed 'Arbar' was lost in the shuffle, and never noticed it in the spring. But this year a little patch of it turned up in what was supposed to be 'Sun Charlot', (a yellow and red flower that was not up to snuff for me this season) and I cannot think how it got there.
One year I had a 'Silver Chimes' better than any I had seem elsewhere. It grew and grew (this one stem) almost to the stature of the old tazettas you find in southern gardens with unreliable names but none the less beautiful for that.
It can be an astounding thing. There must have been more than 15 flowers on the stem, each rather large and beautifully spaced (of course, you have to push them about a little with your fingers) and of unparalleled smooth texture. Up here, however, I have never had a decent bloom, and this year I see all the bulbs have disappeared. It blooms late and is fine for cutting.
The old white trumpet 'Cantatrise' came on very long stems this year with coarse texture and uneven pertanth. It needs digging and dividing, but I had never before seen it really lacking is beauty.
Most of my daffodils have severe defects, by show standards, but then they make a brave show all the same. I have several that are to my eye distinctly ugly, but I like them too. One is a bicolor trumpet, white perianth with a really gross megaphone sticking out in intense neonlemon, frilled to beat the band, like a whore on Easter. I never saw anything quite like it.
I also have some glorious yellows with red cups, a little like the old 'Red Goblet' but better -- except that the cup burns to ashen-gray after two days of sun.
Then I have a good-sized patch of 'Spellbinder,' which is greenish lemon with white trumpet, eventually, and nothing gives e more pleasure than seeing it at the beginning of the season though it lacks refinement.
Many gardeners could with profit buy some of those Detch mized daffodils that come in net bags. There is great varisty there, and they make a loud show. But I hope any gardener will try at least a few of the most beautiful sorts, like 'Passionde.' Even one bulb. CAPTION: Picture, no caption