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Garden Journal

Fragrance of daffodils is a bonus in the garden

By Paul Barbano | Sep 11, 2013
Daffodils look best when planted in clusters or masses.

Summer of 1932 was brutal for many World War I veterans and their families, when over 40,000 of them marched on Washington for immediate payment of a bonus promised them in 1924.  Many of these veterans had been out of work since the beginning of the Great Depression and could use the money.  War-time military bonuses began in 1776, to make up for the difference between what a soldier earned and what he could have earned if he had not enlisted. In the garden there are often bonuses, or extras.  

We often choose flowers that grow easily, are pest free and can be left for years without much care.  If they are also fragrant, well, that’s a bonus. Plant the right daffodils now and you will have armloads of flowers, with the bonus of perfume.

Fragrant daffodils include Bridal Crown, which dates back to the mid-1940s.  This is a tried and true performer in the garden. Bridal Crown daffodil has multiple blossoms with creamy-white and bright yellow double flowers. It is medium height, growing to about 16 inches tall.

Cheerfulness daffodil is a happy flower that blooms late so you can enjoy daffodils well into May. This easy-to-grow daffodil has clusters of creamy white flowers dotted with sunny yellow spots. As a bonus to the bonus is fragrance. Cheerfulness will happily naturalize and spread into big clumps.

The aptly named Fragrant Rose has the delicious aroma of raspberries mixed with old rose. The huge, waxy flowers are often a full four inches across. It has off-white petals with a bright pink corona. The color fades beautifully toward the pale green base. Fragrant Rose blossoms are especially long-lasting and make great cut flowers. They bloom in late April.

Sinopel is a late-blooming daffodil with a round, sparkling white three-inch-wide dish shape, accented by a sharp green-edged cup accented in yellow. The tiny cup actually changes color depending upon temperature. The cup will be greener when grown in warm weather, and more of a yellow when the spring is cooler. Sinopel makes an outstanding cut flower with a pleasant fragrance.

Plant fragrant daffodils in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. They do well on hillsides and raised beds.  Dig down at least 12 inches deep. Add your compost, peat moss or aged rotted manure to the soil if needed.  

Daffodils look best when planted in clusters or masses.  Avoid the single-file plantings that can look sparse and unnatural.

Plant your daffodil bulbs with the pointed end up.  Set the bulbs about four to six inches deep and six inches apart.  Luckily, daffodils are very forgiving, so don’t fret if you plant them too closely or not deep enough; they should still bloom well. Water them well.

In the spring when they first sprout you can apply a bulb fertilizer and again after they are done blooming.  Be sure to let the leaves die down naturally so that the bulbs can store energy for next season’s blooms.

As for the Bonus Marchers of the Depression?  Sadly, they were routed by none other than U.S. Army troops and forced out of the city.  Perhaps this fall, before Veterans Day you can plant some daffodils in honor of all veterans.  Whether they have fragrance is, well, just a bonus.

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