Narcissus Minor ‘Cedric Morris’ is in Bloom!

Image Narcissus Minor Cedric Morris  (Sorry it’s a bit out of focus, it is very windy today)

The greatest winter delight in my garden is Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’. This little treasure is only 25 centimetres tall and I have been waiting anxiously for the buds to open.  If you are thinking that this is a little early, it is actually slightly later than usual. I don’t know why, it hasn’t  been very cold.  The flowers are often open for Christmas and they last for ages, sometimes until March and they seem impervious to bad weather. It is by far the earliest daffodil in the garden; earlier even than Rijnveld’s Early Sensation which gets going later this month. A frosty morning may find the flowers lying face down looking a bit sad but they always perk up again. They are bright yellow with emerald green shading towards the stem and lovely frilled edges. This perfectly formed miniature daffodil is difficult to find. Beth Chatto sells it but you have to order it early in the year. If you find the right place for it the bulbs will increase. They clump up nicely although they don’t seem to set seed. It does seem to suffer from narcissus fly though and may suddenly disappear. I had a wonderful clump which had gradually increased over the years and the whole lot disappeared one year and I had to start again. I think this must have been narcissus fly. Now I am always careful not to plant it in full sun. It needs the protection of other plants so that these pests can’t sniff it out. It needs good drainage and plenty of humus. Slugs love it and there is nothing more heart breaking than to find the buds you have been watching for days chewed off. It is worth any effort to please it though.

You probably know the story. A friend of Cedric Morris, Basil Leng found it growing on a rocky ledge in Spain more than fifty years ago. He was a keen gardener with an amazing garden in the South of France where he grew tree peonies and unusual bulbs. He was driving along the north coast of Spain one cold winter’s day when he spotted a clump of this on a steep bank near a railway viaduct close to the fishing village of Luarca. He stopped the car and tried to reach it by standing on the roof of his car. A girl who was passing saw what he was trying to do and being more athletic than he was managed to reach the daffodils. Basil Leng’s story is that when she tried to pick him a daffodil the whole clump, fifty bulbs came out, showering the car with bulbs and stones. He took the lot. And from those 50 bulbs all our stock is descended.  As far as I know, no one has found it growing round there since. From today’s perspective it seems an act of quite appalling vandalism to grub out the whole clump of a rare plant but people never seemed to bother about this sort of thing then. It is extraordinary that people considered themselves quite at liberty to travel the world and pillage other countries’ flora. I am grateful Basil Leng did collect it though; winter wouldn’t be the same without this little treasure to cheer us through the darkest days.

Cedric Morris gave Beth Chatto one bulb which she propagated  She tells the tale of giving Sir Cedric a potful of this lovely narcissus for his ninetieth birthday because his clump had died out.  After his death Beth asked Leng’s permission to call it ‘Cedric Morris’. It is quite expensive but believe me, it is worth every penny.  I would love to hear if anyone else grows this narcissus and if yours is in bloom yet.


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20 Responses to Narcissus Minor ‘Cedric Morris’ is in Bloom!

  1. Thank you for the photographs and the story. I had not heard the story on how it came to be. I have seen it mentioned some and was on my list to investigate. So now it is no longer on my “investigate list” but on my “to purchase list.” 🙂

  2. Flighty says:

    An interesting, and informative, post. xx

  3. Chloris says:

    Thank you, Flighty.

  4. rusty duck says:

    That little bulb has a lot to live up too, but it is lovely. I so much prefer the smaller daffs.

  5. Chloris says:

    I love the small ones too, Jessica but this one is particularly precious because it flowers at this time of the year and the flowers last so long.

  6. bittster says:

    Thanks, I’ve never heard that story before! I’m not sure how this one would do around here…. Not that I’ve ever seen it offered… Rijnveld’s early sensation is available but I don’t know how it compares and even the sensation dislikes many things about our winter and spring weather.

  7. Chloris says:

    Well it is quite hardy here but you seem to have much colder winters from what I’ve seen on recent blogs. If it is available over there maybe it is a candidate for your garage garden!

  8. Anna says:

    What an exquisite little beauty Chloris. This narcissus has been on my wish list for quite some time but have never organised myself to order one. Will have to check the Beth Chatto website forthwith. I do have galanthus ‘Cedric’s Prolific” but it’s not in flower yet.

  9. Chloris says:

    This snowdrop really is prolific, Anna. I lived close to Benton End for a while where Cedric Morris used to live and my garden had this snowdrop growing everywhere. I don’t know whether it had spread from his garden or whether it was a local snowdrop. But it is lovely.
    You might have to pre-order Narcissus Cedric Morris but it is worth waiting for.

  10. Robbie says:

    You have something delicate…we are under snow. I need to stop by and enjoy your garden photos to inspire me as we continue in our winter until our spring blooms break the soil in late march or april….I have never heard this story before, but LOVE the history behind plants. Yes, people use to mail seeds freely in letters and never had to worry about getting in trouble! I think about how Thomas Jefferson got all his plants from letters, people carrying seed in their pockets, rooted plants in suitcases, but today there are so many laws. What a great story, I have never seen this beauty before….thank you for sharing:-)

  11. Chloris says:

    It is a shame that we can’t send each other seeds but on the other hand it is a good thing that we can’t travel around the world grubbing up plants. I hope your snow will go soon so that you can enjoy your spring treasures.

  12. Ricki Grady says:

    This is a new one to me, but something blooming would certainly be a welcome sight about now. I will be on the lookout.

  13. Chloris says:

    It certainly is a welcome sight in January, Ricki, and the flowers last for ages. Highly recommended.

  14. hillwards says:

    I’m watching the buds on my Rijnveld’s Early Sensation at the minute, they should begin to open soon, a good couple of weeks later than last year, but still happily early. Your Cedric Morris looks like another lovely early bulb, I may have to hunt a few down for next year…

  15. Chloris says:

    I really recommend it, do try and find it. It is small but perfectly formed. And if you are lucky it will bloom for Christmas.

  16. Pingback: Ribes laurifolium. | The Blooming Garden

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