Friday, March 5, 2010

A passion for Narcissus 'Passionale'


Narcissus 'Passionale' (click photo to enlarge)
Photo courtesy of DaffSeek and Carlos van der Veek


In his weekly Earthman columns Henry Mitchell, famed writer for the Washington Post, made gardens sound like magical places whose creation was within our grasp.

He cast a spell over me, and all my gardening choices were ruled by his preferences. I love daffodils and soaked up his opinions on the subject.

Here's what he had to say about Narcissus 'Passionale' in his column called Daffodil Time:

There is a pink-crowned white flower, 'Passionale', which is, not to split hairs about it, supremely beautiful. ... I hope any gardener will try at least a few of the most beautiful sorts, like 'Passionale'. Even one bulb.

Ever the obedient reader, I bought 20 'Passionale' bulbs and planted them in front of my house. He was, of course, absolutely right. If I could have only one garden book it would be the collection of his columns, The Essential Earthman.

Henry Mitchell became ill and lingered painfully for many months. He died in 1993, planting daffodils with a neighbor. I'm sad Henry Mitchell is not here to attend the National Convention of the American Daffodil Society in Murphys, California next week. I'd love to know which daffodils he would find "supremely beautiful" these days.

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23 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

Those really are some spectacular daffodils!

fairegarden said...

I agree about the book, DP, it is a must have for anyone who loves gardens and good, funny writing. It gets better with each reread as well. And I agree about Passionale, it is going on the list right now! :-)
Frances

Daffodil Planter said...

Glad you like them Pseu.

I'm grateful to the photographer Carlos van der Veek (a noted bulb grower in Holland) and to DaffSeek for allowing me to post the photo. DaffSeek is an online photography database from the American Daffodil Society.

Daffodil Planter said...

Frances, Yes, Henry Mitchell never palls. It must be fun for you to see all his references to his TN childhood. I started reading him in 1977 when I moved to DC. I can feel the humidity when I re-read his summer columns.

kate smudges said...

I used to have this Narcissus planted in my former garden. It is one of my favourites. Henry Mitchell's writings are wonderful to read. I am currently reading Allen Lacy and am loving his writing style. (For an incredible array of Narrcissus photos, check out http://gottagarden.blogspot.com. Katie has quite the assortment of Narcissus (and also daylilies ~ if you like them.)

Daffodil Planter said...

Kate, Glad to know we share a favorite flower and writer. Allen Lacy is on my list of "why in the world haven't you read him yet?" Thank you for the link to Gotta Garden--she is new to me and I like her daffodil photos.

Susan Morrison said...

What a lovely photo. I confess a preference for daffodils in softer hues - the bright yellow ones sometimes feel like they're shouting "Look at me RIGHT NOW!" just a little too loudly.

Now I know why you like the film I just posted - it includes a quote from Henry Mitchell!

Helen said...

DP -- Henry Mitchell is now on my list of "why in the world haven't you read him yet?" And this is a daff I don't know yet. Is it scented?

Daffodil Planter said...

Susan, I share your preference for the more subtle colors, but for the opening round of daffodil season I am happy to see the strong yellows of 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'--and I have a window box full of jolly yellow 'Dutch Master' right now.

The Henry Mitchell quote in your short film surprised me and certainly softened me up. But not to the extent of affecting my critical thinking--it's a lovely, lovely film and I hope everyone clicks on your name and jumps to your blog to view it.

Daffodil Planter said...

Helen, Ha! Start with Ode to a Toad--my favorite column in The Essential Earthman. 'Passionale' is "delicately scented" according to John Scheepers. Nothing like a paperwhite.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I hadn't heard of him before this, but now I am going to be on the lookout for his book. I think I'll also be looking for 'Passionale'!

Daffodil Planter said...

Catherine, There are three compilations of his columns but The Essential Earthman was the first (and best, I think). Hope you enjoy 'Passionale'!

lostlandscape (James) said...

Oh that lovely pink color, looks almost like flesh. These bi-colors are my favorite daffodils and narcissus.

Melanie said...

Oh, so sad that Henry Mitchell is dead. His recommended Narcissus looks beautiful. I would love to find some 'Passionale' bulbs to plant in my garden and find his book too.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

That was very poignant. I love Henry Mitchell too. Who doesn't (well if you're a gardener that is). Thank you for the reminder.~~Dee

Grace Peterson said...

Hi DP~~ Would you believe I've got his book and haven't read it? Problem is, I've got too many books and not enough time. Your daff is a beaut! Have you tried Narcissus 'Geranium'? It's my favorite.

Teresa said...

gorgeous photo. What's not to love?

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Daffodil Planter~ MSS of ZanthanGardens just tweeted about your post and this Henry-groupie came right over to read your wonderful post and see 'Passionale' again.

This daffodil would fail here in Texas, but my records show that I planted 12 bulbs of 'Passionale' in my former IL garden, a direct result of reading the passage you quoted.

Still smiling at "Slightly subversive aunt" in the sidebar~

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Pomona Belvedere said...

DP, thanks for revealing your daffodil photo sources so generously. And, once again, for reminding me I must re-read Henry Mitchell, whom I haven't read in about 20 years. I have read some Alan Lacy, but I must confess he's enshrined in my memory mostly as the person who compiled Elizabeth Lawrence's writing about farm bulletins into a book, after she'd died.

Passionale is gorgeous. But for me, the most gorgeous narcissus of all time is another graceful beuty, Thalia.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Having never been a daffodil connoisseur I am taking notes here and on everyone else's posts you've linked through this daffodil blogorama, Charlotte. I'm developing quite a list for the fall! I like the softer, toned-down shade and subtle beauty of Passionale.

rebecca Sweet said...

I'm SO enjoying working my way through this Blogorama..and love the daffodil you chose. I have a few of the bright yellows in my garden which always look totally out of place (though I love them). I've started planting the softer hues and they work SO much better and are quickly becoming my favorites. I must try some 'Passionale's next...especially after reading your touching post.

Patrice said...

Beautifully captured photo. The flower looks so fresh and lovely.

Bren said...

This is totally one of my favorite tulips!
Happy Spring