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WEST COUNTRY PLANT NAMES


‘ ...daffodils


That come before the swallow dares, and take


The winds of March with beauty...'


Shakespeare: The Winter’s Tale


Above: Narcissus Lee Moor - Common yellow and touched with pink whose origins are Devon based


West Country solid gold The history and legend of West Country plant names


Place names are fascinating, giving tantalising glimpses of history and legend, ancient landmarks and uses of language, and West Country names are amongst the most resonant and evocative. This new Country Gardener series by Rosemary FitzGerald, nursery owner and professional field botanist, introduces a plant or plants with West Country interest, telling some of the stories connected with their distinctive names. The names of


garden plants can be equally fascinating, because they may incorporate place names as well as commemorating localities and nurseries, growers and their families and patrons. With older cultivars this provides wonderful chances to be a plant detective, trying to trace connections with previous generations of gardeners and where they lived.


Daffodils are not only one of the most iconic of spring flowers, but they have an important place in West Country horticulture, notably in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.


Our native wild daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus is also a treasured heritage plant in parts of Gloucestershire and the Welsh Marches, but it is the breeding, growing and trading in daffodils, often for cut flowers, that has produced cultivar names which wonderfully evoke our region.


The flower fields of the Isles of Scilly and west Cornwall have more than 150 years of history, fascinatingly described in Andrew Tompsett’s book Golden Harvest, but closer to home, the Tamar valley is also a treasure trove of daffodil stories and daffodil names.


The valley has been associated since pre-history with precious metals, and for centuries was


36 Country Gardener Narcissus Tamar Fire


dominated by mining. It is beautiful, steep- sided, holding a tidal river which carries its warming sea influence from Plymouth right up to Gunnislake Weir. The shelter and the tide


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