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The giant snowdrop has larger flowers and broader leaves than the more common G. nivalis, but grows to the same 4 inches tall and wide. Its white, nodding blooms appear in late winter, signalling spring around the corner.
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs, and flowers in general, to bloom in spring. Galanthus nivalis is the most common species, and its cultivars are the most commonly grown snowdrops on the market. They are reliably hardy and perennial. They grow to 4 inches tall and wide and flower in mid- to late winter, long before most other plants. They are the first sign of spring around the corner. Flowers are nodding and white.
One of the first plants to emerge, this 24-inch-tall bulb bears nodding white bells as early as mid-January. Blooms are faintly chocolate-scented; leaves are glossy, erect, and strap-shaped.
These double-flowered grape hyacinths are a good candidate for beds and borders because they increase only by division. They also bloom longer than those that hasten through spring eager to set seed. April-flowering 'Blue Spike' has the largest inflorescence of the species, with fully double flax-blue fluffy heads (each pedicel carries multiple individual flowers instead of one) and narrow, linear leaves.
These double-flowered grape hyacinths are a good candidate for beds and borders because they increase only by division. They also bloom longer than those that hasten through spring eager to set seed. 'Fantasy Creation', a sport of 'Blue Spike', has a large pyramidal raceme resembling broccoli. Its blue flowers gradually turn purple, then green, fading toward yellow. It doesn't wilt and rarely sets seed, making it useful for dried flower arrangements.
Grape hyacinths are hardy, easy to grow, and have long-lasting blooms--no garden should be without them. 'Saffier' is a good candidate for beds and borders because it increases only by division. Its strong, rigid flower stalks start celery-green and mature to robust medium-blue blossoms with distinct pale-green lips at the mouth of each floret. The constricted openings prevent access to pollinating insects, resulting in blooms that last a full month and making them excellent cut flowers.
Grape hyacinths are hardy, easy to grow, and have long-lasting blooms--no garden should be without them. They are particularly spectacular when allowed to naturalize, whether under trees, along a pathway, tucked into ground covers, or in a bed. This species blooms early, in March in some areas. It has sky-blue frilled bells with indigo stripes. Although the blossoms aren't long-lived, they self-sow freely, providing more flowers to enjoy the following year.
From fleshy leaves arise bell-shaped, purplish blue, sometimes almost black, flowers. Flower heads appear two-toned due to paler crowns, which are sterile flowers. Grape hyacinth is good for naturalizing in gardens or lawns, for forcing or growing in container displays, and for rock gardens.
Tazetta-type daffodils, including the paperwhites that can be forced into bloom indoors during the winter, are also fragrant. ‘Avalanche’ has a cluster of 10 to 20 tiny flowers, creating almost an entire bouquet on one stem. Its flowers, with white petals and pale-yellow cups, have a wonderful musky-sweet fragrance. Since it is hardy to Zone 6, it can be enjoyed in many gardens. It shows off even more when combined with plants like Tulipa ‘Pink Impression’, Ornithogalum balansae, and pansies.
Jonquilla-type daffodils produce dark-green, narrow, often reedlike leaves, which are relatively easy to hide in the border while they mature, and there is usually more than one sweetly fragrant flower per stem. Probably the most fragrant of all, especially considering the size of the flowers, is N. ‘Baby Moon’, a precious, golden-yellow miniature daffodil.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 4 to 5 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 15 creamy-white flowers with pale-yellow centers on compact stems 8 to 10 inches tall, and exudes a mild, sweet fragrance.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 5 weeks after planting. Each 14- to 16-inch stem brings forth 5 to 10 white flowers with golden-yellow centers exuding a delicate fragrance. It may require staking.
This hardy paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 8 to 10 weeks after planting. It produces mildly musk-scented, white flowers with orange centers on stems 12 to 14 inches tall.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 4 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 15 white flowers per stem (12 to 14 inches tall) and exudes a musky fragrance.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 6 to 10 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 20 bright-yellow flowers with orange centers on stems 12 to 14 inches tall, and exudes a marvelously sweet fragrance.
Triandrus-type daffodils usually have one or two nodding flowers per stem and are noted for their wonderful, often fruity, fragrance. N. ‘Hawera’ (pre-1950, Zones 3–8) is a miniature triandrus-type daffodil with many elfin, pale-yellow nodding bells per stem, each with a demitasse-shaped cup surrounded by swept-back petals. This adaptable daffodil can grow in dry areas, in pots, in full sun, and in partial shade. It contrasts nicely with Muscari armeniacum and is exquisite with hellebores.
The newly opened blossoms of N. ‘Intrigue’ (1970, Zones 3–9) are a soft chartreuse-yellow. As they mature, however, the flowers become a luminous white and attract a lot of attention, especially when planted with a blood-red tulip like ‘Hollandia’. When combined with another soft-colored flower, like Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Lady Derby’, it creates a peaceful scene. An American-bred jonquilla-type daffodil with several flowers per stem, ‘Intrigue’ also has a wonderful fragrance.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 5 weeks after planting. Each 16- to 20-inch stem brings forth 15 to 20 large, creamy-yellow flowers with pale-yellow centers. Its mild fragrance is sweet and musky.
Generally speaking, daffodils perform best in full sun and well-drained soil, in areas where there is a fair amount of rainfall in the fall and spring and where the summer is relatively dry. However, cyclamineus-type daffodils seem to tolerate at least partial shade and more moisture than others do. Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’ (pre-1951, Zones 3–8) is a charming example of this type of daffodil. Its white petals are swept back, as if it were standing in front of a fan, and its medium-length, buttercup-yellow trumpet (or nose) sticks straight out at a 90 degree angle from the stem. ‘Jack Snipe’ is an intermediate-size daffodil, standing only 8 to 10 inches tall, and is perfect for a rock garden or the front of a flower border. This whole division of daffodils is becoming more popular not only because it tolerates some shade but also because the shape of the flower is so handsome.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 4 weeks after planting. It produces very large, white flowers on stems 16 to 20 inches tall, and exudes a mildly sweet fragrance.
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