Sparkling like diamonds in the sward of St James’ Park, as the morning sun rises over London, this is Narcissus actaea. It’s an old fashioned variety, introduced in 1919, that’s sometimes referred to as a Pheasant’s Eye or Poet’s Daffodil. However these names truly belong to a much older member of the poeticus group, Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, which is smaller and typically flowers a month later.
Both narcissi have long been in cultivation and earn the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the RHS for their staying power. The flowers vary from traditional daffodils, having a ruff of gleaming white outer petals and a small yellow trumpet fringed with bright orange. The blooms have an exquisite scent, which is used in many a fine fragrance. Both varieties make a great choice for lawns and meadows as they are robust enough to compete with grasses and are said to be ignored by deer and other grazing animals. Left undisturbed they will quickly naturalise.
To witness broad swathes of Narcissus actaea, just yards away from Buckingham Palace and the bustle of Victoria, is a genuine sight for sore eyes.