The narcissus must now compete with thefor pride of place as an exhibition flower. This has surely come about through the present high esteem in which the flower is held, it being the ideal plant for the modern, labour-saving garden and an additional inducement is the introduction of so many lovely varieties. With the introduction of the modern pink and salmon shades and the intense red colourings of the cups of so many of the recent novelties, exhibiting must become of even greater popularity during the years ahead.
As many daffodil lovers are forced to cultivate their plants in gardens in or near to towns where the smoke-laden atmosphere will make protection of the blooms a necessity, Ganwick lights are suggested as being the most suitable form of covering. The plants should be allowed to grow on without protection until the buds are observed, then owing to the fastened on strong stakes around the plants but should they be growing beneath a wall which provides protection from prevailing winds, then there may be no need to provide protection unless growing near a town, and this need not be given until the buds are first showing colour. Should the weather be unduly sunny, which occasionally happens during early April, muslin should be hung over the blooms or should be draped over the glass protectors during midday. Especially do the red-cupped varieties appreciate some protection and whether exhibiting or growing the more expensive varieties for one’s pleasure at home. They will give added satisfaction if some protection is given against strong sunlight. Likewise, if growing in pots in the cold greenhouse or in frames. Three excellent varieties which do not seem to fade are Fermoy, Flamenco and Kilworth, specially suitable varieties for growing in dry, sunny gardens. The white varieties do not require the same protection from the sun though are more susceptible to dirt and splashings from careless watering or from heavy rains and so should be covered as soon as the blooms begin to open.being quite brittle and early spring winds frequently being severe, it will be advisable to cover the plants after giving a peat mulch to conserve moisture about the bulbs. If no glass is available, pieces of hessian canvas should be
The critical time is when the buds begin to open to ensure that none of the petals become caught. They may easily be released before the petal gets torn or is misplaced, which will of course spoil the bloom for exhibition purposes.
Timing is all-important too. It frequently happens that for a week before the show date the weather is cold and dull, with the result that the blooms do not appear to have chance of fully opening by the required date. Cutting theas long as possible, placing them almost up to the neck of the blooms in cold rainwater and transferring them to a cool or attic should bring them on, though very gentle heat may also be necessary if the buds are unduly backward. Whether placing them in containers for exhibition or for market do not crowd them together – give the stems plenty of room.
To retard blooms I have occasionally placed the cut bloom in water in a cold cellar for twelve-hour periods, but as the exclusion of light for longer periods will take away the colour, only short periods are possible.
An excellent method of regulating the bloom is to set the bulbs in August in pans orof loam and peat, to which is added a sprinkling of bone meal and to place them in beds in the open of the width necessary to cover them with either Ganwicks or lights at the required time. Then should the season be late it is a simple matter to lift the and transfer them to a warm room or greenhouse. This is also a good method of ensuring a succession of bloom in pots in the home for the pots may be lifted and taken indoors whenever required. Peat should be pressed between the pots before they are covered to a depth of 8-9 in. with soil. This may also be done in a small yard, beneath a wall, the pots first being stood on a 6-in, bed of ashes, then covered with either ashes or soil. Cupboard space will not then be so urgent and in any case the bulbs will be far happier under the natural moist, cool conditions of the open.
Packing for transporting to the show is important and so is packing for market. For show, the blooms should be individually placed face upwards into a strong wooden box lined with tissue paper, then under their petals and above the stems is placed a roll of tissue which is held down by drawing-pins pressed into the bottom of the sides of the box.
For market, the same procedure should be employed, but here the blooms will be fastened in bunches of six, arranged in tiers, with the stems made level at the ends. The rolls of tissue will prevent any movement of the blooms. When handling blooms for show or for market, use the very greatest care for they will bruise easily but gentle titivating of the petals when in their boxes will enhance their appearance.