In this month's Product Profile, we're going to take a look at the Narcissus family, which encompasses not only narcissi but also daffodils.
When the first dainty Paper White (pictured below) and Soleil d'Or narcissi start to appear at the Market in November, it's not unusual to spot many a customer bending down to inhale their sweet, heady scent at close quarters. And then just a few weeks later, daffodils arrive at Nine Elms.
Read on to discover more about both these popular blooms…
In this report, when we refer to narcissi, we’re talking about those dainty star-like white or yellow flowers, which emit an incredible fragrance. Daffodils, as they're commonly known, differ in that they have long trumpets.
The Narcissus is in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family and the name's exact origin is unknown. However, it's often linked to a Greek word for intoxicated (narcotic) and the myth of the young man called Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection.
The English word 'daffodil' appears to be derived from 'asphodel', a plant with which it was been commonly compared.
The majority of narcissi and daffodils at the Market are British, with growers being based in the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, Jersey, Lincolnshire and Scotland.
At Pratley, British narcissi first come in in November and are available until the tail end of April, whilst British daffodils are available from December through to April/May.
You'll also find Paper White and Soleil d'Or narcissi from Holland at some of the wholesalers including D G Wholesale Flowers and S Robert Allen from November to February.
CUT FLOWERS - NARCISSI
Erlicheer is a highly scented double-headed variety with multiple florets on each flower head.
Scilly White is the name of this type of narcissi with its slightly 'shaggy' white petals and yellow cups.
Avalanche has white petals and pale yellow cups.
Actaea, which is also known as Pheasant’s Eye, has white petals with red-ringed yellow centres.
A very well-known narcissus is Soleil d’Or, with yellow petals and orange cups.
And Royal Connection has yellow petals and orange cups too.
CUT FLOWERS - DAFFODILS
When you see daffodils in their boxes at the Market, they're often tight in bud, as shown immediately below. If you're unsure as to what colour the petals and trumpet will be, simply ask the salesmen.
For example, Golden Harvest (a traditional daffodil) has yellow petals and a yellow trumpet, Fortune has yellow petals and an orange-yellow trumpet, and Ellen has white petals and a yellow trumpet.
Other daffodil varieties to look out for are Carlton and California. Plus, at the end of the season, Dutch Master which has the biggest trumpet.
Apotheose is a double daffodil with yellow and soft orange petals.
Ice Follies has white petals with pale yellow ruffled trumpets.
Pink Pride has ruffled trumpets, which open up as lemon and apricot in colour, and gradually change to coral pink.
You'll find several types of narcissi bulbs in pots at Nine Elms.
Tête à Tête is a small multi-headed variety with slightly swept back yellow flowers.
Paper White has pure white petals and is sweetly scented.
Bridal Crown has creamy-white petals with yellow centres.
British narcissi and daffodil are sold in boxes. The number of stems in each box depends on the particular variety. For example, in a box of Ice Follies, you'll find 10 bundles of 50 stems.
Paper White and Soleil d'Or from Holland come in bunches of 50 stems.
When they're cut, narcissi and daffodils exude a toxic sap, which can damage other flowers. To prevent this, condition them separately for 24 hours.
Due to their soft stems, they prefer to be arranged in water rather than floral foam. And chicken wire is great to use to construct designs.
Narcissi and daffodils look wonderful massed on their own or mixed with other spring flowers. You can use them in vase designs, hand-tied bouquets and small posies. They're also the perfect bloom to use to make topiary trees.
With regards to potted bulbs, they make lovely spring arrangements when placed in rustic or zinc containers and decorated with birch twigs or pussy willow.
Here are some examples of beautiful floral designs using narcissi and daffodils.
(Source:Emma Farah / Rob Van Helden)
(Source:Jay Archer Floral Design)
(Source:Mary Jane Vaughan)
We'd love to see photos of designs you've made using narcissi and daffodils from New Covent Garden Flower Market.
Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your company name and website address. Or if you prefer, you could post your photo on Twitter and copy us in, by including @MarketFlowers in your tweet. We'll then upload your photos into this section.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this month's Product Profile and it’s inspired you with ideas for using these popular white, cream, yellow and orange blooms.
There's really nothing quite like the glorious scent of narcissi! And perhaps it's because there are only a few fragrant flowers nowadays that they cause such a lovely stir.
So do make the most of them whilst they're available.
Please do ask away below if you have any questions or would like to make any general comments. As always, we'd love to hear from you…
P.S. Did you know that the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust leases land including over 100 islands from the Duchy of Cornwall – for the annual rent of one daffodil!