Split-corona or Butterfly Narcissus

"The ponderous fetters passing from his neck
Down to his feet; oppressed with shame he stood,
Like the narcissus bent with heavy dew."

-Shahnemeh Ferdowsi
(940-1020 C.E.)


The name 'Orangery' is a bit inapropos because an orangery isn't something orange, but is a conservatory wherein various citrus fruits are grown, typically alongside other semi-tropical or greenhouse plants.

DaffodilThe present 'Orangery' is a split-corona or split-cup daffodil, sub-category "Papillon" or large-cup Butterfly Narcissus, having the corona arranged in a whorl of six segments which are said to resemble butterflies. Butterfly daffodils are also sometimes called Orchid Daffodils or split-orchids

The large, flattened, ruffled corona of 'Orangery' is light tangerine aging to bright orange, laying somewhat flat against the pure white rear petals of the perianth.

The flowers are always solitary, on tall stems about twenty inches. They generally bloom mid- to late-spring, depending on zone, but in 2005 ours were up surprisingly early, before the end of March. The little drift of 'Orangery' is planted in one of our sunniest xeriscape gardens by the road, though blooming in the rainy season it's getting plenty of water when it wants it.

Though it is an exceedingly pretty cultivar, I've found that it leans forward very easily under its own weight, & being already goose-necked, it does not make a very good showing in the garden, its split orange trumpe obscured with the flower facing the ground. For this reason it's an easier one to sacrifice as cuttings for bouquets.

It was bred from N. x incomparabilis, a Nonesuch Daffodil, also known as Star Narcissi, Chalice Narcissi, Gouani or Gouan's Daffodils. These form a group of cultivars originally hybridized from N. poeticus with N. pseudonarcissus. Nonsuch daffodils are ultra-hardy despite their ornateness. The basic Nonsuch is sometimes encountered naturalized in otherwise vanished gardens, to the point that they are regarded as invasive in the southeast.

To take this discussion from the sublime to the ridiculous, there is a piece of urban folklore that includes a daffodil in the telling. I've wanted to retell the tale for some while, & doing so on the 'Orangery' page is as good a place as any.

Thetale was first told in a small journal The Big Issue distributed by London's homeless in the mid-1990s. It was soonafter being distributed in continuously re-forwarded e-mails as a true story, then turned up in many newspapers 'round the world. There were soon many variants & additions, but whatever changes occurred as the story was retold, for some curious reason the flower remained always a daffodil. The story runs thus:

Gunther Burpus arrived home but found that he had lost his key. Attempting to enter his abode by way of the cat-door, he became hopelessly stuck, & shouted for assistance. Amused students happened by. Observing Gunther's plight, these youths immediately pulled down his trousers & underpants to his knees, painted his buttocks blue, & stuck a daffodil in his crack. Above the cat-door they posted a sign proclaiming that the screaming man was a performance artist & this was street-theater. For two days passersby would linger to appreciate said performance, ignoring the man's continous pleas, except to throw coins into his underpants.


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