2010-03-07. Narcissus ‘Grand Monarque
According to Scott Ogden, Garden Bulbs for the South, the narcissus bulb I purchased at Gardens last fall that was marked ‘Grand Monarque’ is probably just ‘Grand Primo’. However if it is the ‘Grand Monarque’ grown in California, it will probably survive in Austin’s heavy clay soil for only a year or two.
I don’t have any ‘Grand Primo’ flowering right now to compare. Comparing from memory I will say that this ‘Grand Monarque’ is larger. The bulb was huge. Everything about the flowers are larger, too. This could be just because it’s a brand new bulb selected at its prime for sale. However, looking at old photographs of ‘Grand Primo’ they do look indistinguishable. So perhaps I do already grow the same bulb in my garden but they’ve suffered from neglect. The N. tazettas cross easily so there are different strains. I wouldn’t mind if this one pumped some new genetic material into the strain that’s naturalized.
Old photo of Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’. The light is different so it’s difficult to accurately compare colors but the forms look identical.
These photographs don’t quite capture the white of the ‘Grand Monarque’ accurately. I have some paperwhites blooming today and they are pure, brilliant, stunning white. Both ‘Grand Monarque’ and ‘Grand Primo’ tend toward the ivory and blend more naturally into the landscape.
2010-03-07. Narcissus ‘Grand Monarque’
Rob Proctor, Naturalizing Bulbs, adds to my confusion. He says, “The variety ‘Grand Monarque is very much like the Chinese sacred lily but blooms a month later. It has long been a southern favorite.” Where’s a description or photograph? Then he describes ‘Grand Primo’ as being a member of the italicus family. This sounds like the same mistake I made initially. The italicus bloom earlier, have very long strappy leaves, smaller cups, and a much muddier white, compared with modern paperwhites. Proctor echoes Ogden, saying that a “similar variety (to ‘Grand Primo’) is found in California, called ‘Minor Monarque’ with white petals and a yellow cup.”
First flower: 2010-03-03.
2000-02-11. Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’.
I associate the first redbud blossom (my private official marker of spring) with Valentine’s Day but this year I saw my first redbud on Monday (2/9), almost a week early. Spring’s in Austin and there’s no holding it back.
As my son retorted, “Does this mean we’re going to have a month of 70-degree days and then a hard freeze during Spring Break?” Probably. Austin’s average last freeze is now February 26th (it used to be in March) so the period between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day is always a bit chancy for tender new plants. He’s probably remembering when he was a boy and I took him camping at Enchanted Rock for his birthday. The temperature surprised us by dropping to 14 degrees that night. That was the same year as the latest freeze on record, April 3, 1987. As the Austin Climate Summary shows, Austin can be in the 90s or higher ANY month of the year; it can also freeze anytime between October and April.
Flowers were opening all over the garden. This is the most excitement we’ve had at Zanthan Gardens in about eight months.
First flowers: Prunus mexican (2/5); paperwhite Narcissus ‘Grandiflora’ (2/6); rose ‘Ducher’ (2/6); Mahonia bealei (2/6); Narcissus tazetta ‘Grand Primo’ (2/8); Leucojum asestivum (2/9); Cercis canadensis (2/9); Lantana montevidensis (2/9).
We had a bit of relief from the drought this week, too: about half an inch of rain in a slow, soaking drizzle on Monday (2/9) and then a bit less late in a 10-minute downpour (accompanied by high winds and hail) late Tuesday evening (2/10). The rain penetrated the first 4 to 6 inches of soil (depending on where it is in my yard–heavy clay or well-composted). Below that, the dirt is dust dry. It’s frightening to dig into it. I expect the spring weeds to kick into high gear now. Our weather has been so dry that even the chickweed was languishing. Some henbit has been blooming. I never weed it all out because the butterflies like it when nothing else is blooming.
I have been digging out nandina to make a bed for three raspberry plants I bought at The Great Outdoors. I didn’t think that raspberries would grow in Austin but they assure me that this variety, ‘Dorman’, will produce in a couple of years. We harvested an actual serving for two of the English peas and have been eating lots of salad trying to get the most out of the arugula before it bolts.
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One of the bulbs I found in my garden when I moved in over ten years ago was a Narcissus tazetta cross. These narcissus (in contrast to the paperwhite narcissus) have wide strappy dark green leaves, yellow cups, bloom later, a much more pleasant scent, and thrive year after year on heavy clay soil without much attention.
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Grand Primo narcissus.
I posted a new plant profile on the Grand Primo daffodils that are blooming right now.