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Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’

January 4, 2023
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Narcissus 'Cedric Morris'

Narcissus 'Cedric Morris' in John Good's garden

Description and occurrence

This delectable dwarf daffodil, is the first to flower and is always open here in North Wales on Christmas Day. It is sufficiently miniature in all respects that it is a perfect companion for early snowdrops. Its species name refers to the area of Asturias, but Narcissus asturiensis is quite widely spread across N. Spain and Portugal from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees. It is a plant of predominantly acid soils, mainly found in sub-montane areas on stony ground, often in short-grazed alpine turf.

Narcissus asturiensis. Galicia - February 2019. Credit Razvan Chisu

Narcissus asturiensis. Galicia - February 2019. Credit Razvan Chisu

The form described, which is earlier into flower than is usual for the species, bears the name of the late noted artist, gardener, bulb breeder and selector, Cedric Morris. He had seen the narcissi at Ribadeo in Asturias on an earlier trip with Basil Leng, a plantsman who lived on the French Riviera. At a picnic stop, Leng noticed a narcissus already in seed when others were still in flower, as Blanchard tells in our AGS publication Narcissus: A Guide to Wild Daffodils (1990). He gave Morris a handful of bulbs. But when, years later, Leng returned to the spot the wild narcissi had been swept away for road widening.

‘Cedric Morris’ growing in Bishop Rudd’s garden at Aberglasney Gardens. Photograph: Nigel McCall.

But Morris gave one of these early-flowering narcissi to his friend and protégé Beth Chatto. She duly named it Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’. So, a precious variety lost in the wild survived. As it is slow to increase it is still quite scarce (and expensive!) in the trade.

Cultivation and propagation of Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’

Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’ is easy to cultivate in any well drained acidic or neutral soil. A site in the open, but part shaded by our house during the hottest time of year, suits it here. I occasionally top-dress the bulbs after flowering with a general purpose granular fertilizer.

I frequently receive requests for a bulb or two of this very special plant and am occasionally able to oblige. Each year I dig up a few bulbs immediately after the flowers fade and pot them in a well drained compost. They hardly notice the move and with luck, by the autumn there will be a few offsets which can either be potted on, planted elsewhere in the garden, or given away. I have never had viable seed set on N. ‘Cedric Morris’, which is probably because all the bulbs in cultivation are derived from a subset of the few originally collected in the wild. Or, as some have suggested, it may indicate hybridity, although I have never seen likely parentage discussed in print.

Author: John Good

John Good