William Cowan (1835-1920) succeeded his father at
Cowan children outside Valleyfield House
SCOTTISH HORTICULTURAL ASSOCIATION
Meetings are held in the Association's Rooms, No. 5 St
Month, at 7-30 p.m. (prompt), with the exceptIon of the
January Meeting which is held on the SECOND Tuesday.
ABSTRACT OF PAPER ON
--In writing this paper on the Daffodil it is not my intention to give its history. To do so in a brief paper such as this would be impossible, and serve no useful purpose. Therefore I will confine the few remarks I have to make, to the cultivation of Daffodils for cut flowers and conservatory decoration. Daffodils can be had in flower at a time when flowers are scarce in the majority of places--viz., the middle of January. To have them by this time we must have them potted by 10th August, andfor a later supply the 10th September answers well. The soil I use for potting consists of good old loam, very little sand, a sprinkling of soot, and just a dash of burned refuse. But, if the soil be heavy or retentive, add lime rubble and a little spent mushroom manure. I have used this, and can recommend it. I use pots eight inch in diameter, and put as many bulbs in the pot as I can, the more bulbs the more flower, and just as good. I prefer to plunge the pots in an open space in the kitchen garden, as a bed of coal ashes may become rather dry at this season of the year, whereas the Daffodil delights in moisture during all stages of growth. I plunge them deep enough to allow the top of the pot to be six inches below the surface. Boards or slates ought to be placed at the bottom for the pots to rest upon, and as a guard against worms. As a rule I lift those that were potted in August about the beginning of October, and place in a cold frame. They ought to be slightly shaded for a few days after lifting. Use the syringe on bright days and give air—no matter how little--both night and day. In the course of ten days or so, remove a few pots to a cool greenhouse or vinery--either will do—standing the pots as close to the glass as possible. I find a temperature of 45' suits them well until the flower stalk rises a few inches, after which they will bear a few degrees higher, say 50'. As regards stimulants, a little soot water with just a pinch of guano is all that I give, and good results follow.
Now, what sorts are we to grow to get the best return for our labour. Trumpets find most favour for pots, and I think justly so. The sorts I consider best are-- Henry Irving, Golden Spur, Princeps, Maximus, Horsfieldii, Emperor, Empress, Grandee, and Cyclamineus. The last-named is a splendid flower for bouquets or glasses, and does best in shallow pans without drainage. If pure white flowers are in dernand, Albicans and Colleen Bawn are best.
INCOMPARABLIS section are smaller in size of flower,
but nevertheless are well worthy of a place.
Sir Watkin is best of these,
followed by Beauty, Guyther, Cynosure, Frank Miles,
and Titan. In the Leedsii section, Duchess of
I will now pass to the Daffodil grown in the garden. Some of the strong growing sorts do first-rate in the herbaceous border--such as Emperor, Empress, Horsfieldii, Sir Watkin, Grandis, and Maximus. I find the last named doing better here than in any other place where I have tried it, and ought to be planted nine inches deep. Those who wish to grow a collection should, if possible, give them a site shaded from the morning sun. Beds four feet wide, with a slight incline from back to front are best. A border that has been cleared of early peas, spinach, or cauliflower suits them well, all that is required is to fork it over, tread firm, and form the beds--no manure of any sort. Trumpets may be planted seven inches between the rows and two inches between the bulbs. The Incomparablis, or star narcissus, five inches between the rows, except Sir Watkin, which requires a little more. I find all the star narcissus do best in a light, sandy soil, while trumpets seem to do in all soils.
things are essential to all narcissus, good drainage
and a fair amount of moisture. Some of
the finer sorts we grow in cold frames, all the white trumpets are grown in
this way, the compost being old red rock, silver sand, and charcoal. Another frame is made up of good loam, sand,
charcoal, and a little of the old rock. The stronger growing sorts are planted
in this, such as Madame Plemp, Glory of
If you wish to lift your bulbs, the proper time to do so is as soon as the foliage dies down, leave them outside for a week or so, when they can be cleaned and placed in shallow boxes, removed to an open shed until such time as they can be again planted. There is a rather wide difference of opinion as regards the proper time to plant the bulbs. I have found from experience that their season of actual rest is very short, not more than three weeks. That being so, we plant as soon as we have the bulbs dried and cleaned. What I mean by this is, that if you lift one-half of your narcissus as soon as the foliage dies down, and leave the remaining half undisturbed for three weeks, you will find they have made a considerable number of fresh roots. In short, we make a point of having all narcissus in the ground by 1st September, weather permitting.
The third method of growing the narcissus is to naturalise them. There is no way in which they show their graceful flowers to such perfection as when planted in the grass. All narcissus will thrive in this way, I think, without exception, and, in an ordinary season, a wealth of flowers can be had from the first week of March on to the middle of May, and this without a break. You don't need to mind as to the nature and quality of the soil, providing that it is not sour. They are growing here in red clay, blue clay, gravel, light sandy soil, and in a dark sandy soil that you might pronounce fit for nothing ; all thrive well, and flower well, and that is all we require.
benefit of those who might wish to plant a few in this way, I will give a short
list of varieties that I think best to start with. The Tenby Daffodil
is the earliest and one of the best, followed by Scoticus
and Golden Spur, Emperor,
Empress, Horsfieldii, and Grandee. These
are just a few, and can be added to at will.
The Incomparablis, or star section, are far
more numerous in varieties. These are
the most chaste of all Daffodils for planting in the
grass, hardly any two sorts coming into flower at the same time. Sir Watkin is,
perhaps, the best of this group, at least it finds most favour owing to its
large flowers and strong constitution.
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