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A host of golden daffodils

"a host of wild daffodils" / Neil Fletcher
"a host of golden daffodils" / Neil Fletcher
Author Jess Price

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I may have been spoilt by the exceptionally early springs of the last few years, but with plummeting temperatures and arctic winds, it feels like it has taken an age for us to clamber out of winter this year. Thankfully things have finally started to change. Despite the snow and ice, I have caught glimpses of the bright yellow flower that trumpets out ‘spring is here’.

Daffodils can currently be seen in abundance across Sussex. With their upright stalks and bold yellow petals, these flowers are hard to miss as they spring up on road verges and roundabouts and in churchyards, parks and gardens. Whilst they may lighten up a cold March day, these brash flowers are not the same daffodils that inspired Wordsworth’s immortal lines. That honor goes to a more retiring flower, our native wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus.

So much more diminutive and delicate then their brazen cultivated cousins, there is something special about the unassuming elegance of a wild daffodil. Unfortunately the swathes of gentle pale bobbing daffodils that inspired so many writers and poets are mostly a thing of the past. Lost to development, intensive agriculture and a preference for the big bold forms we see today, wild daffodils are now restricted to small pockets of marginal and woodland habitats.

Thankfully there are still a number of sites, including our reserve at West Dean Woods, where wild daffodils can be seen in Sussex. However it would be fantastic to find out about some more sites. Please let us know if you see any wild daffodils by filling in the species recording form on our website.

Tips for wild daffodil spotting:

  • Wild daffodils are shorter then the cultivars and hybrids up to a maximum of 35cm tall.

  • They have a very obvious two-tone look with pale, almost white, yellow petals surrounding a darker yellow trumpet.

  • They form clumps, carpeting the ground from March to April.

wild daffodil / Neil Fletcher
wild daffodil / Neil Fletcher

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