"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Twelve Dozen Daffodils (7 of 8)

Twelve Dozen Daffodils (7 of 8)

From Daffodil: The Remarkable Story of the World’s Most Popular Spring Flower by Noel Kingsbury:

“There is… a strong tendency towards an appreciation of the natural-looking across the gardening world; smaller daffodil varieties may be no more “natural” than large ones, but they tend to look it. In some ways this can be seen as part of a wider movement, which values the traditional, the local, and the supposedly authentic, against the modern, the hi-tech, and the corporate.

“Among modern daffodils there are several trends which spark particularly vehement reactions of antipathy: large flowers, doubles, and Split-coronas. Some flower sizes are now so big (in excess of 10cm/4 inches) that to many of us they look not only artificial but ungainly, as if familiar flowers had been fed on steroids….

“Doubles always stir strong emotions, with a minority of gardeners disliking almost any doubles. Double daffodils seem to evoke particular venom, possibly because the classic image of the flower is one so strongly associated with nature and the romance and simple beauties of spring. Thanks to its cup, the daffodil has a unique shape among flowers, and for many of us, once it loses this distinction, it loses its raison d’être and its soul. Although we know that nearly all the daffodils we see along roadsides are planted, there is part of us which wants to believe that they are wild — which we cannot believe if they are double.”

From Daffodil: The Biography of a Flower by Helen O’Neill:

“[One] by one, as if from nowhere, a few late-flowering daffodils began to appear. First ‘Mrs R.O. Backhouse’, so elegant with its pink cup and flowing white perianth; then ‘Sulphur Phoenix’, an ancient, frilly and really rather silly double daffodil that froths with cream and orange ruffles, and is known to my mother by the nickname ‘Butter and Eggs’….

“Another peculiar, all-white ghost of a Narcissus nodded as though beckoning me to it. Attired in a crenelated petticoat of a corona, its slender, sweptback ‘petals’ indicated that it could be ‘Thalia’, a pre-1916 Division 5 triandrus bred by M. van Waveren & Sons in The Netherlands or — just possibly — the eerie ‘Venetia’, a daffodil registered by Henry Backhouse in 1910 that has not been seen for years.”


This is the seventh of eight posts featuring daffodils from Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. The previous posts are Twelve Dozen Daffodils (1 of 8), Twelve Dozen Daffodils (2 of 8), Twelve Dozen Daffodils (3 of 8), Twelve Dozen Daffodils (4 of 8), Twelve Dozen Daffodils (5 of 8), and Twelve Dozen Daffodils (6 of 8).

For this (and the next — and last!) daffodil post, I’ve included photographs of some double daffodils that flower a bit later than other varieties and — from my experience — have very short-lived blooms. I’ve tried every year to catch them blooming and only did so twice previously (in 2020 and 2022). In addition to dying off quickly, these flowers — as top-heavy as they obviously are — tend to fall after a rainstorm and many of the flower petals will get damaged and spattered with red Georgia clay by landing on the ground.

Despite their thick stems — many of which look like fluted columns that ought to give them extra strength — they just don’t weather the weather very well. So this year I was glad to catch them at just the right time, especially after making several trips to the gardens to hunt them down. A couple of days after some thunderstorms, I found these newly bloomed and still more-or-less standing upright, while others — tipping over — had flowers remaining in decent condition. I really like this variety — perhaps partly because they’re rare finds for my floral photography — despite Kingsbury’s admonition against them in the quotation above. And, hey, even the curved stems have a certain elegance to them.

By the way, in the quote from Helen O’Neill’s book above, I included links to image searches for each of the daffodils she mentions — some of them are doubles, some have split coronas, and many are types you may not have seen before.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!


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