Three beautiful daffodil gardens to visit in Surrey this spring
PUBLISHED: 12:20 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 29 March 2017
With daffodils set to take centre stage, Leigh Clapp suggests three gardens to visit this month to immerse yourself in the freshness of the burgeoning season
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2017
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It’s always so refreshing to get out into the garden in springtime, when the air is filled with sweet fragrances and on all sides are emerging flowers and young, newly unfurled leaves.
Daffodils are the stars this month, peering out at every corner, backed by the astringent lime greens of new growth, forming golden carpets in the landscape and shimmering translucently when backlit by sunlight.
These versatile bulbs are easy to grow, long lived, increase naturally, stand up to all the elements, and can be used in different ways in the garden.
With hundreds of varieties the choice is vast and to gain inspiration for their use take a stroll around these three gardens to enjoy the spring scene…
RHS Wisley, near Woking
Daffodils are a colourful element of the spring palette at RHS Wisley, with carpets of different varieties as well as mixed, in beds and containers. Wisley also holds the International Daffodil Register so this is the place for any enquiries you may have on which varieties to grow. Make sure you allow plenty of time to explore the gardens, from the formal areas near the long pond, to the sea of daffodils in the Wild Garden and the lawned paths of the Jubilee Arboretum or the dainty hoop petticoat narcissi in the Alpine Meadow. It’s also interesting to wander up to the Trial Beds, where varieties are assessed for their health, durability, grace and impact, with the very best eventually qualifying for an Award of Garden Merit (AGM). You can gather inspiration for companion planting with daffodils, such as richly purple¬blue muscari with tiny white narcissi, contrasting polyanthus bedding or encircling trees heavy with blossom.
Need to know:
RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking GU23 6QB
Open daily, 10am to 6pm
Admission: adults, £14; children (5-16), £7
Spring is picturesque in this lovely five¬acre garden, with naturalised narcissi of subtle tones, dainty fritillaries and unfolding blossom. The Arts and Crafts¬style garden, with elements by Gertrude Jekyll, perfectly befits both the architecture of the attractive house, with its origins dating back to the 16th century, and the lovely secluded setting of woodland and water. Owned by the Caroe family for around 100 years, the house is steeped in history with the most recent additions in 1907 by the renowned ecclesiastical architect and major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, WD Caröe. Formal by the house with a striking stone pergola and impressive yew hedging, the style becomes more relaxed as it blends into woodland and fringes a large quarter¬acre pond, which cascades to a succession of small ponds. This unique water garden was designed by Gertrude Jekyll, who visited the garden, from her nearby home of Munstead Wood, in 1911.
Need to know:
Vann, Hambledon GU8 4EF
Open for the National Gardens Scheme from Sunday March 26 to Friday March 31, 10am to 6pm. Also open Wednesdays, from April to July.
Admission: adults, £6; children (under 16), free
Timber Hill, Chobham
With 15 acres of woodland and parkland to stroll through, there is much to admire in the spring gardens here. Drifts of daffodils, along with an array of flowering shrubs bursting into bloom, including witch hazels, over 200 camellias and magnolias, glow against the foil of evergreen foliage and vistas to the North Downs. There are also fine specimen trees such as oaks, liriodendron and liquidambars coming into leaf. The gardens stretch out from the house with more formal areas of densely planted layered curving beds closest to the house and then sweeping lawns lead up a hill to the informal collections of trees and shrubs, giving the effect of being in private parkland. Guided by the contours of the landscape, owners Nick and Lavinia have augmented the planting since moving to the property in 1975, with a focus on improving and replanting the woodland. Clumps of tiny narcissi guide the visitor to explore the spring¬focused garden with its succession of bulbs from snowdrops and crocuses, through shimmering daffodils, to camassias, bluebells and tulips.
Need to know:
Timber Hill, Chobham GU24 8JF
Sunday March 5 and Monday April 17, 11am to 4pm
Admission: adults, £5; children (under 16), free
Get the look
• Daffodils come in a variety of shapes and colours, from the common yellow to whites and pinks, with singles, doubles or split-coronas
• There is great diversity in daffodils – from the antique to the latest developments
• There are more than 50 species and 25,000 varieties
• Bulb, flower and foliage is poisonous so this is one the rodents and deer leave alone
• Grow in well-drained soil, sun or light shade
• If soil heavy, mix grit into base of planting hole
• August and September best months to plant
• Plant at depth three times height, if bulb in beds, borders or containers
• Flowers will always face the sun
• Plant in drifts, in garden beds, under deciduous trees or naturalised in grass
• Plant deeper in lawns, 15cm
• Older varieties naturalise best
• After flowering, keep watered and fed with high potash, until leaves die back
• Preserve the strength of the bulb by deadheading spent blooms and allowing the foliage to die down naturally
• Need the energy from the foliage to the bulb to produce next year’s flowers
• Grow some in pots to control the conditions, about five bulbs to each container or mix with other spring bulbs
• Remove and burn any bulbs with diseased foliage
• Divide over-crowded clumps late summer and replant offsets
• Varieties to try – pure white ‘Ice Follies’, white with orange rimmed centre ‘Pheasant Eye’, miniature ‘Tête-à-Tête’, fluted ‘Orangery’ and double ‘Unique’
Daffodils - did you know?
• Daffodils are divided into 13 divisions, based mainly on flower form, such as trumpet, large-cupped, double and split-corona
• The name ‘daffodil’ was first recorded in 1538, earlier it was called ‘affodell’
• Other names include jonquil, narcissus and paperwhite
• Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans as they thought the sap had healing powers