Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring an 1880 Victorian.
Gardening with Antique Perennial Daffodils and Other Heirloom Spring Bulbs
This page features antique and heirloom daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs that we grow in our own garden.
Read and learn about rare hard-to-find species narcissus/daffodils from as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries, with lots of photos of the antique perennial daffodils and other heirloom spring flowers we grow from bulbs.
You will also find some fun features including polls and a quizz, so have fun and enjoy our garden tour.
Gardening with Antique Perennial Daffodils and Other Heirloom Spring Bulbs is the second in our Victorian Garden series, a companion to Gardening with Rare and Unusual Perennial Tulips and Growing Heirloom and Old-Fashioned Roses.
Our zone 5 garden is very much still a work in progress and is being created to go with our 1880 Queen Anne Victorian. We try to stick to plants favored in the Victorian era, although we are not that strict about that for now. As we discover more age-appropriate bulbs and plants we will pass some of the "newer" heirlooms on to our neighbors and clients who own later homes such as craftsman, bungalow, cottage, and four square styles that were built circa 1900 through the 1920s.
The Advantages of Gardening with Heirloom Bulbs
There are many advantages to gardening with heirloom bulbs. Many of these older types are hardier and many antique varieties of daffodils are perfumed with lovely scents reminiscent of jasmine and gardenias.
More recent hybrids may be bigger or come in unusual colors (pink daffodils, anyone?) but, as far as we and plants are concerned, bigger and/or different is not necessarily better.
We'll be adding to this page as the late bloomers open and nod their heads toward my camera, so please bookmark this lens or follow us on twitter for updates and notices.
Rip Van Winkle, 1884
This whimsical dwarf daffodil with its spiky blooms is the earliest to bloom for us. It is about 8 inches tall and is also easy to force indoors, in case you aren't within the recommended zones. It is named after the eponymous main character who, in Washington Irving's 1819 short story, wakes after sleeping for 20 years.
A Surprise Daffodil
This beautiful bloom showed up for the first time this year in a bed of yellow daffodils planted three years ago.
We have not been able to identify it, and don't know if it is a fluke or if a mislabeled bulb was planted in the bed in the fall of 2000 and just decided to show its pretty little head now. If you are a "narcissist" and are familiar with this daff, please let us know.
A Swath of Naturalized Daffodils
Queen Anne's Double Jonquil, 1611
N. jonquilla 'Flore Pleno'
A gorgeous 2012 addition
to Our Victorian Garden
'Flora Pleno' is one of the rarest and most difficult to find daffodils. The folks at Old House Gardens call Queen Anne's Double Jonquils "prom dresses for honeybees," and describe them as "swooningly fragrant." I couldn't have said it better myself.
One of my personal favorites, the "Queen" is a full flower that is smaller and much more refined than it's larger cousin, the double campernelle (shown further down on this page). It has a light ethereal look despite being packed with petals.
N. jonquilla 'Flore Pleno' is about 10 inches tall and although rated for zone 6, as you can see from the photo, does beautifully in my zone 5 garden in a bed with a western exposure.
The bloom has not fully opened in the photo, but we will update it in a day or two when the petals unfold. (Update 4/24/12: Photo added below. Please scroll down to second photo that follows.)
Weather Alert: We Interrupt this Page....April 23, 2012
The week of April 17th was unseasonably warm, as was most of March and April. Everything was blooming about a month earlier than usual. When we woke up on the morning of Monday, the 23rd of April, we found everything covered with snow.
My beloved "Glory of the Sun" tulip was crushed and broken from the weight of the heavy wet snow. Queen Anne's jonquils were buried, but I dug them out, cut the frozen blossoms, and placed them in some water in the house. All but one eventually opened, their gentle sweet scent drifting in the air. (You can see a photo below)
However, I regret to report that we lost two other early tulips that would have bloomed this week, and most of the remaining daffodils. I expect that mid- and late-season tulips and other spring bulbs will bloom fine, except for the few whose stems were snapped in two by the snow.
BTW - that beautiful arc of branches framing the top of the photo is a usually upright branch from a neighbor's tall old birch tree bent by the snow. We still have some snow outside, and may get another inch or two before tomorrow, but hope that is the last of it. The late snow is not unusual in Central New York -- but the warmer weather that preceded it this year certainly is an anomaly.
"Rescued" Queen Anne's Double Jonquils
N. Poeticus Recurvus (pre-1600s)
The fragrant Poet's Narcissus grows wild in Spain and appears in English herbals from the early 1600s, although presumably was known prior to that, at least in Spain.
In the United States, Poet's Narcissus or Pheasant's Eye, as it is also known, dates to colonial times when settlers brought some of the precious bulbs from Europe for their own gardens. Grows about 12-14 inches tall in zones 4-6.
Narcissus 'Butter and Eggs'
A Survivor from 1776
The 'Butter and Eggs' Daffodil is an heirloom from the southern United States, but hardy to zone 5.
At least as old as its native country, this double yellow daffodil has survived as a privately shared "passalong" plant for over 235 years.
The 'Butter and Eggs' daffodil can be distinguished from the few similar doubles available today because it has center petals a little bit darker than the outer petals.
A "New" (for us) Heirloom Daffodil from 1869
'Stella' is, as the name suggests, a star-like daffodil in two shades of the prettiest yellow.
She has a small ruffled darker yellow trumpet surrounded by narrow graceful petals in a soft lemon hue.
N. Stella is a new addition to our garden (planted fall 2011, first blooms mid-April 2012).
Doesn't it make you happy just to see her?
aka 'Twin Sisters'
Twin Sisters Daffodil, known as the wildflower 'Primrose Peerless' prior to 1597, has two blooms per stem in white with small lemon yellow cups. It has also been called April Beauty, Cemetery Ladies, and Loving Couples.
Narcissus medioluteus stands about 12-14 inches tall and, although usually indicated as appropriate for zones 6-8, it does fine in our zone 5 garden, where it blooms and scents the air in early to mid-May.
Are You Narcissistic or Tulip-rific?
Do You Prefer Tulips or Daffodils?
More Heirloom Daffodils
Mary Copeland, 1913
English horticulturist W.F.M. Copeland II, named this double daffodil after his daughter Mary in 1913.
Narcissus Mary Copeland features long creamy white petals and a centre interspersed with lemon and orange-red and has an enchanting scent.
No wonder it was one of the most popular of the double daffs throughout the 20th century!
Another Mystery Daffodil - Can You Identify It? - A Surprise Appearance in April 2012 and again in 2013
Last year we had two unusual blooms in one of our groupings of 'Mary Copeland' Daffodils (see previous photo). They look pretty much the same as 'Mary' and have the same scent, but the outer petals are yellow fading to white instead of white. This year three of them showed up.
These beauties do not match any variety we have ordered or planted, and we haven't been able to identify it through our research.
Could it be a sport of Mary Copeland or a mis-identified bulb?
Could it be Twink - a 1925 rarity we've yet to purchase?
What do you think?
We'd Appreciate Your Help...
Heirloom Narcissus Poeticus Plenus 'Daphne'
aka Double Poet's Daffodil
The Heirloom Daffodil 'Daphne' is a sport of Narcissus Oderatus that was discovered prior to 1914. It blooms mid- to late season and grows to about 12 inches tall. Best of all, 'Daphne' has a wonderful spicy sweet fragrance that reminds me of gardenias.
'Daphne' is one of the few daffodils that is suited to growing in warmer climates and is rated for zones 4 to 11.
Narcissus Mrs. Langtry: Named for Victorian Actress, Lily Langtry
Double Campernelle, 1601
Narcissus x odorus 'Plenus'
Double Campernelle is a favorite daffodil from over 400 years ago. It is a cheerful medium yellow -- a shade that is neither too soft nor too strong. Narcissus x odorus 'Plenus' has a scent that reminds me of jasmine.
Fragrant and double for a triple delight.
Grows 10-12 inches tall and is recommended for zones 5-8a.
"My heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils" William Wordsworth Memo Cube
Multiple Blooms and Scented
Another lovely scented daffodil, the exquisite Narcissus Thalia dates to 1916.
It is the oldest cultivated form of the wild N. triandrus and will grow 14 to 16 inches tall in zones 4 through 8.
Narcissus 'White Lady'
An old fashioned daffodil from 1897
With a ruffled yellow cup and pristine white petals, 'White Lady' was a favorite of Mrs. King, the founder of the Garden Club of America and author of nine garden books. Mrs. King called 'White Lady' "A regal beauty." It is easy to see why.
White lady grows to about 16 inches tall and is suitable for zones 5 through 8a. This is one of the rarest of the heirloom daffs.
Which is your favorite heirloom Daffodil?
Enjoy Daffodils All Year Long Through Timeless Art
Above: Daffodils by William Gersham Collingwood
Right: Narcissus by John William Waterhouse
Neo-Classical artist John William Waterhouse (1849 - 1917) was a renowned Neo-Classical artist known for lifelike, hauntingly sensual paintings. Born in Italy and raised in England, Waterhouse preferred historical, mythological, and literary subjects. His work had strong romantic Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian influences.
Both are Available at AllPosters.com in a variety of formats and sizes to suit your decorating style and budget.
More for Daffodil Lovers
Assorted Other Bulbs: Crocus chrysanthus 1914
Muscari Botryoides - Grape Hyacinth
Muscari botryoides is a vigorous, cold-hardy (zone 3-7) blue grape hyacinth that dates to 1576. It grows 6-8 inches tall with long-lasting blooms. It is not readily available, having been replaced by modern armeniacum and aucheri hybrids, but worth searching for, especially in colder regions.
Allium Karataviense - aka Turkestan onion
This ornamental dwarf onion blooms in spring for three or four weeks in shades of ivory to soft pink/lavender. With sweetly scented large (to five inches in diameter) globular flower heads, this allium is grown as much for its hosta-like blue-gray-green foliage as for its blooms. A lovely short, sturdy, decorative additon to gardens in zones 5 through 8.
More About Gardening
- My Victorian Garden in Summer: Growing Heirloom and Old-Fashioned Roses
- My Victorian Garden: Growing Heirloom Bearded Iris
- My Victorian Garden: Gardening with Rare & Unusual Antique Heirloom Spring Tulip Bulbs
- Basic Gardening Essentials: A Guide to the 10 Best Garden Tools and Accessories
- Kids In The Garden: Great Gardening Gifts, Tools & Toys for Kids
We're Glad You Stopped By
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Your Feedback is very important to us.
© 2011 Chazz
Before you leave our garden...
Chazz (author) from New York on June 16, 2020:
thank you. You won't regret adding heirloom plants to your garden
Susan Zenier on June 15, 2020:
Thank you. It's a good site, v. informative. I need to do some more research. And, I intend to buy some more "antiques".
Chazz (author) from New York on May 13, 2014:
@GEMNITYA5: Thank you, Gem! appreciate it
GEMNITYA5 on May 13, 2014:
Expressive YELLOW spring-daffodils, i really like them.
Also shared on Facebook :)
Chazz (author) from New York on April 02, 2014:
@paulahite: Thank you, Paula. Will do.
Paula Hite from Virginia on March 31, 2014:
Can't wait to see these around my house! I've featured your lens on our NEW G+ page today. Please stop by and join the group.
Chazz (author) from New York on March 03, 2014:
@BarbRad: Thanks, Barb. Sorry about the problem with the duel module - I've reported it as a glitch. Please come back and try again in a few days or more and let me know if it works.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on March 03, 2014:
I tried to put my two cents into the duel, but after countless attempts, it wouldn't work. Sorry. I'm a daffodil fan. You showcased some lovely ones.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on September 10, 2013:
A garden of delights. So much loveliness. Thanks for the visual feast.
VineetBhandari on April 11, 2013:
mrdata on April 11, 2013:
All spring flowers are lovely! Thanks for your nice lens!
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on April 11, 2013:
pawpaw911 on April 11, 2013:
Love the N. Poeticus Recurvus. Nicely done.
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on April 11, 2013:
I love early spring flowers! Around here we look for the first yellow daffodil blooms around Valentine's Day. Things were delayed a bit this year, but once it warmed up and everything bloomed, it cooled down just enough that the flowers stayed around longer than usual. Overall, a gorgeous spring!
MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on April 10, 2013:
Ibidii on April 03, 2013:
Beautiful lens! :D
Ibidii on April 03, 2013:
Trumpet Daffodils are my favorite! I love all kinds and colors of Daffodils and Narcissus! :D
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 03, 2013:
How beautiful these flowers are. They are a joy to behold.
Sue-DN on March 17, 2013:
What a beautiful garden you must have. I'm pleased to say that the daffodils are just starting to appear for another year - such lovely sunny colours after a long, hard winter.
anonymous on October 19, 2012:
Great lens, I didn't know there were so many varieties - beautiful pics.
anonymous on April 23, 2012:
Beautiful lens! You've inspired me to plant some daffodil bulbs this fall!
Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on April 17, 2012:
Love this lens! Just beautiful and it makes me smile!
kindoak on April 10, 2012:
Informative page! Selecting flowers to plant is always difficult. I tend to go for those that have scent, like the Narcissus Thalia.
Chazz (author) from New York on April 09, 2012:
@AlleyCatLane: Thanks "Alley" - you can see a bit more of the garden in pictures I have on red gage. Hopefully will have more this year as these photos were taken while we were still putting in the hardscape and designing the gardens. Our garden is actually rather tiny as we have a small triangle shaped corner lot, but we try to maximize every little square inch of it.
AlleyCatLane on April 09, 2012:
I love your antique flower lenses. Please let us get a peek of your gardens in landscape view, not just the close-ups. You must live in such a beautiful environment.
Rob Hemphill from Ireland on April 09, 2012:
Lovely lens. I enjoy springtime when the daffodils show their happy faces. It makes me get back outdoors with my camera after the winter.
hsschulte on April 03, 2012:
I grow heirloom vegetables each year, but it hadn't occurred to me to select heirloom flowers also. Beautiful collection you have here.
Rosaquid on April 01, 2012:
Love this lens, Chazz! I chose it for my April quest. My daffodils are just beginning to bloom.
DebMartin on March 22, 2012:
I just love bulb flowers. They're the best. Beautiful lens. d
Lee Hansen from Vermont on March 22, 2012:
I plant daffodils near my entryways and where I can see masses of them from the house. They cheer me up so much when the winter grey is getting to be too much. Although this winter in Vermont we've had nearly no snow and now we're having a week of summer weather in March - so I'm anxiously awaiting the first shoots of the 100 bulbs I planted last fall in my new garden. Lovely lens!
Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on March 20, 2012:
Daffodils are usually my first real indicator of spring. We have a large spread of them in the landscaping around the store. Beautiful.
Ellen Mitchell on March 20, 2012:
Lovely lens. I am so excited for Spring and the early blooms of the new growing season. Thanks for sharing.
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on March 20, 2012:
Daffodils are my favorite flower!!
KonaGirl from New York on March 12, 2012:
Beautiful lens, Chazz. The photos of the daddodils are lovely! *Squid Angel Blessed* and added to My Squid Angel Blessings 2012 in the "Home & Garden Gardening" neighborhood.
julieannbrady on March 12, 2012:
You have convinced me that it is time to try planting with bulbs. The daffodil is one of my favorites.
Brandi from Maryland on March 12, 2012:
I just saw some daffodils blooming yesterday...how wonderful to know that spring is finally here! :) This is a beautiful lens!
Pastor Cher from United States on March 02, 2012:
What a lovely garden. It must be something to wake up to every day. Thank you for sharing a little of it with everyone.
anonymous on March 01, 2012:
Fabulous page about perennial gardening! Well done. I learned a lot about bulb gardening and wanted to let you know I found your page on the home page of 'squidoo.com' today.
Thank you for all of the information you have provided here about spring bulb plants and tips for hardier and many antique varieties of daffodils! You have saved me a lot of time.
flycatcherrr on February 29, 2012:
I'm looking at two feet of snow out my window right now, but on this page Spring's busting out all over. Thank you for the sunshine! *blessed*
Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on February 29, 2012:
Another beautiful lens.
curious0927 on February 28, 2012:
What a wonderful lens, a nice walk through spring! Blessed! Wish my lenses looked this nice, but I'm working on it.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on February 28, 2012:
I miss that burst of spring flowers since I live in Florida. Sure we have colorful flowers all year, so you wouldn't think it a problems but the bulbs were always special when I lived in colder areas.
lasertek lm on February 28, 2012:
Great lens! Thanks for sharing.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin on February 27, 2012:
Awesome garden theme.
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on February 27, 2012:
The flowers featured in this article used to adorn my childhood church's sanctuary every Easter Sunday. The place was brightly colored and smelled so fresh and fragrant. Thanks for bringing back happy memories!
MariaMontgomery from Central Florida, USA on February 27, 2012:
Hi Chazz, great lens. I love daffodils. I like tulips.
dahlia369 on February 27, 2012:
Love all of these spring blooms, they are breathtakingly beautiful and uplifting. Great lens! :)
anonymous on February 27, 2012:
Earned another *angel blessed* ... springtime sure brings the sunshine into to people's lives.
MelonyVaughan on February 26, 2012:
Like you, Chazz, I have become a Squidoo addict and I'm proud of it! Once again, a great lens with attention to detail and quality. Bravo!
MGuberti on February 26, 2012:
RazzbarryBreeze on February 26, 2012:
I Love your lens! The pictures are so pretty. I love daffodils and tulips ... Tulips being a favorite flower of mine.
traveller27 on February 24, 2012:
Lovely - love all the pics.
RinchenChodron on February 24, 2012:
Lovely lens! It's still snowing here in Colorado - can't wait for the first daffodils and tulips - about 6 weeks away. Never heard of heirloom bulbs - but then I live in a modern condo. Very enjoyable read.
Joan Haines on February 22, 2012:
Thank you for this lovely preview of spring.
Barbara Walton from France on February 21, 2012:
I love your garden, and the idea of making an heirloom garden. Some lovely flowers here.
moonlitta on February 21, 2012:
"I wondered lonely as a cloud,
That floats over vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
Of lovely, golden daffodils..."
Thanks for bringing this back to my memory!
gemjane on January 30, 2012:
Nice lens. Lovely pictures.
Rose Jones on January 16, 2012:
I didn't know daffodils are Victorian! I think I had a past life in that era.
Adriana from New Market on January 09, 2012:
I can't wait for spring now! I love daffodils :)
oxfordian on October 05, 2011:
Beautiful! One great page after another. I'm a fan!
Sherry Venegas from La Verne, CA on July 21, 2011:
I want to see the roses too.
Chazz (author) from New York on July 18, 2011:
@serenity4me lm: Definitely! Our roses got a late start this year due to the weather, but we've got a lens in progress about our heirloom roses and hope to have it ready to post soon. Thanks for asking.
serenity4me lm on July 17, 2011:
Any old time roses in that garden?
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on June 25, 2011:
Very beautiful. I certainly enjoyed your Victorian Garden. Thanks for sharing.
Blackspaniel1 on June 03, 2011:
Tyla MacAllister on May 27, 2011:
I grow lots of daffodils and the old heirloom types are my favorites. Mary Copeland will blast here and Pheasant's Eye never blooms more than once in my garden. I wish I could grow those types but I'll just have to be content with the beautiful pictures from your garden. I have found a source that sells Twin Sisters so I will add that one this year. Great lens from a fellow daffodil lover.
Krafick on May 26, 2011:
Alohagems on May 22, 2011:
wow! i love freshly picked flowers. I love flowers. Thanks for sharing