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The Daffodil.

From some very interesting ." Notes on' the Daffodil," in the Australasian, we extract the following :—

Flowera, like ladies' colours and dresßes, have* their periods of fashion. 1 Just now the daffodil reigns supreme, erstwhile the chrysanthemum; then the rose, camellia; and on; Daffodils and jonquils are all naroisßi. No flower has a' more ancieut history than this. Poets and philosophers for the lasc three thousand years, from Homer down to the present 'day, have written upon the narcissus. It is thought that Helen of Troy and the incenseloving Cleopatra were both partial to the clustered naicißSUß (N. tazetta), and that the Egyptian Queen, when tired of fiery pomegranate buds, 'frequently wore clusters of that flower in- her blue-black hair 1 , just as do the wives and daughters of Bundhifly Egypt and of Arabia to-day. ■ In the maßeum of' the Kew Botanic Gardenß one may see with hiß ■ own eyes wreaths made almost entirely of the flowers of the blustered naroiaaus, as immortalised by the poets of Greece, as they were found in 1888 by Mr Petrie while excavating In 1 the cemetery at Hawara, in Egypt; supposed to have been made' by Greek 'residents in the land of the Pharaohs— not in the time of the Pharaohs; it is true, but certainly as early as the first century 1 before the: Christian erai s . ' ' Few plants have improved' so much by careful selection and fertilisation within the last few • years as the narcissus ; the ; varieties 'may now be numbered" by the. hundred. ' ' ■ ■"' : •• _ ' ' . An immense impetus was given to this flower by the great exhibition of daffodils and the conference held at Chiswiok in April, 1890, opened by the Princess Mary of Cambridge. The writer of these lines will never forget the magnificent eight' then displayed. The collection exhibited by Messrs Barr and Son, to whom the gold 1 medal was awarded, contained several hundred varieties. Few of us aresaware of the enormous trade done in daffodils. At the period just referred to, it wan estimated that there were about two hundred million under cultivation. Immense quantities- of naroißaus flowers are imported into England from the Channel Islands, chiefly from the Isles of Scilly, while large shipments are made: from Belgium, Hoi-) land and other placeß, aggregating in the whole many hundreds of tonß of blooms per annum. Although the business done in this favourite plant, both in bulbs and blooms, is so large, there has never been a mania for them aa there was with the tulip at the end of the seventeenth and commencement of the eighteenth centuries, when they were sometimes sold by weight, at a price above that of the most precious metals.. The variety known in our gardens as Marriage de Ma Fille was then valued at JBSOO sterling per bulb, an immense sum in those days, the original seedling bulb being given by the lucky raißer as a dowry to hiß daughter, hence the name. Even much higher prices than this were given for some bulbs, the highest authenticated record being 4600 florins, but they were of ten bought and Bold without being seen, and sometimes even without being in existence, such was the mad speculation of the times. Narcissi vary much in price, from a penny a bulb to a Madame de Graaf at five guineas, Thiß variety can now be purchased at some 25b or 30a ; we have not yet seen it in the colony. The fact that the narcissi are found over a large geographical area is a proof that different sections require a Bomewhat different treatment in the way of situation and soil* In China, Japan, Northern India, Persia, Cashmere, North Africa, the Canary Islands, as well aB nearly all over Western Europe, some members of this extensive genus are found. The earliest Greek physicians recommended the roots of narcisßi for medical purposes, but we do not think they are included in the British Dharmacopceia. A demand is springing up in'our midst for bulbs in quantity of the sweet-smelling jonquil for perfumery purposes, and it is quite probable that a large and profitable business] may be done in this line. The raising of seedling narcissi as a certain means of obtaining a good livelihood cannot be recommended, but the occupation Bhould be very interesting, and some day a Victorian Dean Herbert may surprise the world by producing a " scarlet daffodil," an event looked forward to by enthusiastic European growers as cuite within the range of probability.

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Bibliographic details

The Daffodil., Star, Issue 5368, 20 September 1895

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The Daffodil. Star, Issue 5368, 20 September 1895

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