Stephen Vinisky, Oregon

The lengthy search to get N. cyclamineus

February 23, 2011
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Categories: Bulb Information, Daffodil Types, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Miniatures, Planting, Seedling, Seeds

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Grant Mitsch’s supremely lovely ‘Emperor’s Waltz’ has always struck me as an ideal form to breed towards in Div. 6. I love the “waisting” on the corona and I feel the flaring, bell shaped mouth adds grace, elegance, and much charm. Twenty years ago and more Narcissus cyclamineus was extraordinarily hard to find in my part of the world. Bulbs were almost never available and the seed in various exchanges was scarce. Some years you might win the luck of the draw and get a single packet of five seeds, some years none.
Around this time (20 years back) I was able to wangle an invitation to visit a venerable private garden in the next county over. The garden was developed in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Narcissus cyclamineus has now naturalized extensively in this garden. It is the only species narcissus on the acreage and there are no other daffodils. Knowing of my passionate interest in daffodils, the current owner invited me to bring along a friend, that we could have any pollen we chose, and that we could each pick three flowers to bring home. I called friend Walter Blom and we made arrangements to meet and visit the garden together.
Upon our arrival we saw no sign of any Narcissus cyclamineus in the extensive shrub plantings on the gardens upper level. We traveled a few hundred feet down a hillside on a winding path to a small meadowy area shaped in a rough oval about 70 feet across. The orientation of the meadow was almost due north with a slight tilt towards the east. This meadow and the huge, extensive shrub borders that surround it had hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of naturalized N. cyclamineus all at about peak bloom. Remember how scarce N. cyclamineus was at this time? Our jaws dropped as we stared almost in disbelief at this fabulous sight.
The original owners were both gardeners and plant collectors. The husband, we were told, had a unique way of spreading and distributing this Narcissus seed around the property. He must have thought that N. cyclamineus was common. His habit was to wander the garden in May with either a 5 iron (golf club) or a tennis racket in hand. If he happened upon a N. cyclamineus with a developing seed pod that was either splitting open or “cracked” and just about to open, he would tee up on the pod take a hard swing at it and slap scatter the seeds towards some distant part of the garden. Alternately he would take a hard swat at the just split open pod with his tennis racket. I remember Walter and I being sort of aghast at his methods but looking around, they sure seemed to have worked just fine in this case.
We carefully searched among all the N. cyclamineus flowers with their subtle variations, I managed to find a quite petite, lovely, waisted, bell shaped N. cyclamineus (that is how I describe it) and brought the flower home for pollen. I’ve now raised a lot of seed from this really neat form. You’ll start to see it in a number of new things from here that use the best of these seedlings either as a seed parent or a pollen parent.
The attached photo is of a cross of V05-04-6 = V99-3-8 (a wide petaled Selection from Xana x Candlepower) times an N. cyclamineus seedling raised from seed from pollen of the “waisted, bell shape” mentioned above. This new seedling in the photo is a petite Miniature that approaches the sublime form of ‘Emperor’s Waltz’ but doesn’t quite equal it. Plant height is 3 1/3″ tall (82 mm), Flower diameter is 30 mm. The corona length is 15 mm and the segment length is 13 mm. Still love the waisting and, all in all, not a bad little flower.
Steve
Photo taken outside on Feb 22, 2011

Steve Vinisky

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3 Responses to The lengthy search to get N. cyclamineus

  1. February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Steve this is simply darling!! Emperor’s Waltz has always been a favorite of mine; I have scrimshaw pendant of it; the likeness taken directly from Haven’s catalog. So glad you are getting this form in a miniature!! You are the best. Phyllis
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  2. February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Steve this is simply darling!! Emperor’s Waltz has always been a favorite of mine; I have scrimshaw pendant of it; the likeness taken directly from Haven’s catalog. So glad you are getting this form in a miniature!! You are the best. Phyllis
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  3. February 24, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Steve this is simply darling!! Emperor’s Waltz has always been a favorite of mine; I have scrimshaw pendant of it; the likeness taken directly from Haven’s catalog. So glad you are getting this form in a miniature!! You are the best. Phyllis
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