Ireland and particularly the north of Ireland has a fine reputation for breeding daffodils and the garden at Lismacloskey Rectory in the Ulster Folk Museum, which is planted and maintained by volunteers from the IGPS and the Museum, now has a collection of almost 40 different cultivars.
The chilly spring this year has meant their jaunty blooms ranging from deep yellow through orange, lemon and delicate pink to ivory white have last exceptionally well. One of our earlier flowers was the all-white trumpet daffodil, Narcissus ‘Empress of Ireland’ which was bred by the famous Guy Wilson before 1952 and received an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the RHS as recently as the 1990s. Two other white daffodils in the collection merit a special mention: the dainty and delectable N. ‘Mary Lou’ bred by Brian Duncan of Co Tyrone and N. ‘Glasnevin’ bred by Kate Reade of Carncairn Daffodils and named in 1995 for the bicentenary of the National Botanic Gardens. Kate is a long-standing Honorary Member of the Society, elected for her outstanding contribution to daffodil breeding.
Some other cultivars bred by Brian Duncan which have delighted us this year include the pink-cupped N. ‘Cape Point’ and the flamboyant N. ‘Coral Dance’, a white and coral-pink double. The Northern region chose one of Brian’s introductions, N. ‘Tyrone Gold’ AGM, as one of the six plants to feature on their display banner.
Many of the bulbs in the collection at Lismacloskey have been obtained from Nial Watson of Ringhaddy Daffodils in Co. Down www.ringhaddy-daffodils.com
. One of his own introductions is N. ‘Lemon Cocktail’; its blooms are not only a delicious sherbet-like lemon colour but very long lasting in the garden and should be on anyone’s shopping list. Thinking of shopping lists, why not make a resolution to grow some of our own wonderful Irish varieties next year instead of a run-of-the-mill pack from the garden centre?
Text and photographs from Maeve Bell.