Based on the ho-hum selection at the average local plant nursery, who would know that there are more than 25,000 different kinds of daffodils—scented ones, and ruffled ones, and pale creamy ones, and even a crinkly cupped bicolor variant named for the tiny Irish hometown of its creator? And you thought daffodils were dull.
I want them all. A selection of several dozen of the best—the rare, the coveted, and the oldest heirlooms—is available from Old House Gardens, where Michigan-based bulb grower Scott Kunst is blessedly fanatical about saving and propagating flowers we might otherwise forget had once existed. And now is the time to order, for fall planting:
Above: The creamy clusters of Daffodil Erlicheer are happiest blooming in a climate where it doesn't get too cold (recommended for Zone 6 or warmer); $25.50 for 10 bulbs. Photograph by Richard Jolley via Flickr.
Above: Broughshane Daffodil was named for the Irish hometown of Gay Wilson, who created the hybrid in 1938; it's recommended for Zones zones 4-7b and to Zone 9 on the West Coast. Among the rarest Old House Gardens offers, it's $40 for 10 bulbs. Photograph by Chris Durrill via Flickr.
Above: Thalia is a daffodil I've been planting for more than 20 years; I love the graceful, gentle way the flowers lean over to listen to what you're saying. It's a hybrid that dates to 1916; $15.25 for 10 bulbs. Photograph by Cynthia Crawley via Flickr.
Above: "If daffodils were athletes, 'Avalanche' would be wearing Olympic gold," according to the Old House Gardens catalog. A vigorous bloomer with up to 20 blooms per stem, Avalanche Daffodil is $18 for 10. Photograph by Lagged On User via Flickr.