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.