Daffodils at Troutbeck Church, near Windermere

Wordsworth's Daffodils

Troutbeck Church, near Windermere

I Wandered lonely as a Cloud.......

….of Narcissus lobularis (pseudonarcissus), the Wordsworth Daffodil, Lent Lily or wild daffodil. It is a small dainty daffodil, growing to a height of 10cm (4”), with creamy, white petals and a yellow trumpet. It is an excellent daffodil for naturalising in an open woodland situation or in a meadow. Why not plant your own little patch of the Lake District to bloom in spring. Once planted they can be almost forgotten, requiring very little in the way of aftercare.

Position

They need a moisture retentive but well draining soil in a sunny position; but they will tolerate a little shade. A poor, dry soil will need to be improved by adding a good quality, peat-free compost or garden compost. If the soil is heavy then incorporate some coarse grit to improve the drainage.

Planting

Plant 10cm (4”) deep and about 10cm (4”) apart. They look best planted in swathes or large blocks.

Aftercare

Make sure they don't dry out after they have finished flowering as this will impair the following year's flowers. Deadhead regularly, as setting seed can sometimes be the cause of blindness (not flowering the following year). After they have finished flowering feed every 1 – 2 weeks with a high potassium feed, such as Tomorite, this will build up the flower bud for the following year. Don't remove the foliage until it has turned yellow; if they are naturalised in a meadow make sure it is not mowed until the foliage has died back.

If you are visiting the Lakes to see the daffodils they are usually in bloom from the middle to the end of April. Recommended places to visit to see the daffodils: Rydal Church; Troutbeck Church (near Windermere) and Wordsworth Point, Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater.

The National Trust alleges that these original daffodils along the shores of Ullswater are under threat owing to well-meaning visitors planting non-native, large flowered cultivated varieties. These large varieties are out-competing and hybridising with the native species and so contributing to their decline; a view which is disputed by the Wordsworth Trust. Whatever the truth of this situation they are still worth a visit, just please don't plant, or remove, any daffodils.

These dainty little daffodils inspired the poem by William Wordsworth written in 1804, and published in 1807. He wrote the poem after a walk around the shores of Ullswater with his sister Dorothy, being inspired by the swathes of daffodils on the shore of Glencoyne Bay.

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves besides them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:-
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gaz'd – and gaz'd – but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought.

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas