Naturalising Narcissus bulbs in grass

The best narcissi for naturalising in grass are robust, on the short side and simply formed. They include the jaunty ‘Jetfire’, which has an almost red trumpet and yellow outers. Or go natural and plant the native varieties which are N. obvallaris, the Tenby daffodil, an all-yellow affair. The two-tone yellow N. lobularis, the English wild daffodil, also does well in grass once established. Or you could plant an old pre-1869 variety that looks like a wilding, ‘W.P. Milner’, or a collection of mixed narcissus especially for naturalising. These daffodils tend to spread by setting seeds so plant them in clusters and don’t deadhead them.

Planting Tips

The general rule of thumb is to plant all your bulbs at least twice the depth of the bulb. Wear gloves if you have sensitive skin because some bulbs do irritate the skin (particularly hyacinths), and always wash your hands afterwards as they are often treated with a fungicide.

A small trowel is the most useful tool in the border, but a garden spade is best when planting in grass. Cut a foot-long v-shape in the grass, as if it were two sides of a triangle, and lift the v-shaped flap of turf. Break up the soil underneath with a garden fork and place the bulbs in the triangle and then stretch the flap of turf in your hands to distress it slightly. Replace the turf, trimming if you have to.

If you’re planting a border, avoid any straight lines unless it’s in a cutting garden. Randomly throw them on the ground and plant where they land. This looks far more natural. If it’s a large area and you have a small child, you can copy the famous Miss Ellen Willmott of Warley Place in Essex. She placed the small child in a wheelbarrow with a sack of bulbs and pushed it along whilst they showered the ground with bulbs.