Celebrating the ‘flower that comes before the swallow dares’ we will dance with Wordsworth’s daffodils and sigh sadly with Lenten Lilys. Welcomed in from the wild in the 16th century forms and features proliferated through unstable couplings, with the ‘Great Yellow Spanish Bastard’ and ‘Parkinson’s Double’ delighting the florists of old, whilst ‘Van Sion’ travelled to America with the colonists to multiply in their gardens. Toxicity was disregarded by herbalists anxious to use bulbs for binding wounds and salving sunburn, although modern medicine concentrates on the precious galantamines which gives relief to Alzheimers. Narcissus poeticus has inspired poets and playwrights through the 16th to 20th centuries, from Herrick to Housman, via AA Milne’s ‘Daffadowndilly come to town’. Coming to London was the achievement of the families of the Scilly isles and the Cornish valleys, as the late 19th century cut flower industry commenced with a hat box and a packet boat. Celebrate the coming of spring with the history of narcissi!
Twigs Way has worked in historic landscapes for over twenty years, commencing with her PhD studies on medieval parks and expanding into gardens and landscapes of the subsequent periods. Her present work in historic landscapes consists of lecturing, research, writing, publishing, crafting landscape management plans, visiting historic sites, and indulging an enduring fascination with the history of female gardeners.