In cool and temperate parts of the country, narcissus can be planted to naturalise under deciduous trees and shrubs or on embankments, or to add a burst of colour in areas that are bare in winter, such as the rose garden.
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In many parts of southern Australia, particularly Tasmania, roadsides and fields are painted yellow in late winter and early spring with narcissus. In the subtropics and warm temperate zones, daffodils need to be treated as annuals.
The narcissus forms that bloom the earliest have stems with clusters of small flowers. Daffodils flower later, mainly from August until late September. For early flowering, select the yellow ‘Soleil d’Or’ jonquil or the creamy-white double and highly fragrant ‘Erlicheer’, which lives up to its name by flowering in late winter. For later flowering, select the poet’s narcissus.
One of the most uplifting sights of spring is a bluebell wood. It’s a feature of a Northern Hemisphere spring, particularly in the UK, where English bluebells grow wild. Create a mini bluebell meadow by mass-planting bluebells under a deciduous tree and enjoy that sea of blue that says it’s spring.
The easiest bluebell to grow across much of Australia is the so-called Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica). This bulb has stout stems and tiers of mainly blue but also lilac, pink or white flowers that last for many weeks. Bluebells self seed and the bulbs multiply readily, so even a small planting can become a carpet of blue (or lilac, pink or white) over time. Bluebells can also be grown in clumps among other spring-flowering bulbs.
The dainty English bluebell (H. non-scripta) has an arching stem and bells of blue, mauve, pink or white on just one side of the stalk.
It needs a cold climate to feel at home.