Narcissi are much more enjoyable and more beautiful when growing through the grass of a field than planted primly along the borders of the garden, where, to be sure, they are useful and mildly effective for a little colour, but where they present an ultra-formal appearance and suggest the backyards of a city where they can be grown equally well. Some spot may be found surely on a small place where they may be naturalized, - on the edge of the lawn, in a clearing in a grove; or where the garden ends and the long, natural grass of a meadow begins; on a bank or terrace or grassy knoll. If planted in the rough grass the bulbs ripen before the scythe has to be employed and they do not interfere with a crop of hay. They grow and multiply, especially in deep, loamy soils where there is a good deal of moisture in the Spring of the year. A very successful bed was naturalized by the author between the lawn and a thick clump of wild trees. A band of the bulbs about four and a half feet wide was planted, following the outline of the woodlet, which was composed of Oaks and Elms. The ground fell off a little toward the trees so the rain to a certain extent was carried away, but the soil was deep leaf-mould that had never been disturbed and is always quite damp except for a few weeks in Midsummer. The bed was a hundred and fifty feet long and was carried in a graceful line around a large rock about which a clump of old Cedars twined their gnarled roots, until it was lost to sight in the wild growth of a little glade.
Emperor, Empress, Von Sion, Sir Watkin and Barri Conspicuus were used, and the different shades of yellow, primrose and orange-red, and the different characters of the heads of bloom added great interest and beauty to the effect. The bulbs were planted close together so that there was a dazzling and solid band of colour, and when they faded their places were taken by Cranesbill (wild Geranium) which was supported by a background of Ferns that had begun to stray out of the dark depths of the woods towards the warmer shadows of the lawn.
Narcissi in the Field.
Narcissi Naturalized along a Stream.
The cheapest Narcissi to use are the medium trumpet varieties that may be obtained in mixture from a dollar and fifteen cents to a dollar and a half a hundred. But the gratification that one experiences from planting some of the named varieties of marked characteristics and colours is out of all proportion to the extra expenditure. The best Narcissi are:
Barm Conspicuus; primrose, stained orange scarlet.
Bicolor Empress; white perianth, yellow trumpet.
Empress; very large; rich golden yellow.
Golden Spur; large yellow trumpet, deep yellow petals.
Incomparabilis Cynosure; sulphur petals and cup, stained with deep orange-red.
Sir Watkin (Welsh Chalice Flower); very large; sulphur cup, orange petals.
Princeps (Irish Daffodil); primrose and yellow.
Narcissi in the Grass.
Single Yellow Jonquil, Campernelle Jonquil, Narcissus Poeticus (the little white, starry flower with a pheasant's eye) can be established easily and increase very rapidly. Poeticus should be planted in a dry place, however, or it will not blossom. The best place to naturalize it is on a little knoll on the edge of a lawn or grove of trees, where it is well shown off. Poeticus ornatus is an improved Poeticus that blooms early, the first of May; the old variety blooms the last of the same month, the last of the Narcissi to appear. Jonquils may be naturalized in the half long grass, or in the company of Poeticus which it precedes in bloom by several weeks. All the Narcissi grow well in the shade. The small bulbs can be planted with a dibble, a sharp, pistol-shaped instrument with which holes are bored in the ground. The trowel will have to be used for the larger bulbs, to scoop out a cylinder of turf.
The white, sweet-scented, double Narcissus whose flower is something like a Gardenia, is worthless out of doors. One authority says that it must be planted in a dry position if you wish it to bloom; another, that it will not do well without moisture.
My experience has been that no matter where it is planted the bud will shrivel up just when it seems about to burst into flower. It is most fickle and it does not pay to bother with it.