Minnow

'Minnow' Daffodil;
or, Miniature Cream Narcissus


"Strow me the ground with daffodillies."

-Edward Spenser
(1552?-1599)

   

Narcissus tazetta 'Minnow' is one of the smallest of all daffodils, but sometimes catalog discriptions either fail to note that it is only the pale cream-petalled & yellow-trumpeted blooms that are small. Some listings fib that the plant itself is six inches tall. A few Tarzetta varieties may well remain shorter, but 'Minnow's' slender green grass gets to be 18 inches tall, & spreads into a dense floppy turf.

The flower stems are taller still, & themselves frequently floppy, so that if you plant 'Minnow' on a garden ledge the turf & blossoms will lean forward into the sun.

But long as the stems & grass are, those cute wee daffodil blooms are only about the size of quarters, sometimes smaller. They might well be imagined to be yellow minnows swimming amidst green sea-grass.

MinnowIt prefers a great deal of sun but will tolerate a bit of shade, & is hardy for zones 5 through 9. On Puget Sound the turf emerges in December. It begins flowering lightly by about mid-March but really picks up steam in April. The blooms sometime linger into May. When it dies back in summer, the bulb needs to remain relatively dry.

In a warmer climate it can bloom as early as November. It rather likes Puget Sound weather patterns of wet winter & dry summers, so that it can go in a low-maintence roadside garden. Ours wasn't originally on the roadside, but near the house, growing at the foot of a Lady Bank's Rose that requires no watering to speak of. The location was chosen because this daffodil, like the Bank's Rose, mainly needs no more than ordinary rainfall.

This spot underneath the enormous climbing rose turned out to be too shady, so that the blooms were only moderately good in 2002 & 2003. So as autumn 2004 arrived, I lifted the bulbs, adding five more newly obtained 'Minnow' bulbs, & planted them along a ledge in the roadside's xeriscape rugosa rose garden. They flowered much better the following March than ever they had in the previous location.

'Minnow' perennializes easily, returning each year stronger than ever, unless conditions are too harsh or too shady, in which case it may fade away year by year. Tazetta narccissi are multiflowering in that each bulb produces more than one flower; the second photo shows a single stem with three flowers. For its charm & ease of growth, it had bestowed upon it the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

There is an unproven sentiment that narcissus bulbs have healing properties, though the toxic lectins make it an unwise choice to use medicinally. Nevertheless, it has been used for everything from cancer cure to headache remedy to poultice for boils. The little germination point within the bulb has long been regarded as an intoxicant & possible hallucinogen, & narcissus essentially means "benumbed," as by a drug, hence the association of the Narcissus with ancient mystery cults & altered states of mind bringing the mystic closer to the divine realm.

In the Song of Solomon there is a reference to the Rose of Sharon, but the translation is flawed, & comparative Semetic languages indicates a bulbous flower is meant. The most likely flower alluded to is the sacred N. tazetta, native to the Lands of the Patriarchs. Of this website's two essays on Narcissus mythology, the second essay regards N. tazetta as the Supernal Bride.

   



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