This is a very elegant, double headed, white daffodil which flowers late. It is up now, among blue vinca and pretty forget-me-not flowers, and looks just lovely. It was a favourite with the Victorians and is now enjoying a renaissance after being eclipsed by blousier daffs in the crazy, colourful, post-war psychedelic gardening era (an historically correct period in mid-twentieth century history don’t you know).
Its tardiness means it gets to enjoy a neighborly chat with early tulips. Its colouring compliments their richer colours and its grace counters their bulkier shapes. We will be planting this in our cutting garden come September, in-between a crazy Autumn Wedding Diary, and will look forward to next spring (which will be, frozen fingers crossed, warmer) when it graces the garden with its elegant presence.
Those Victorians liked their classical history and ‘Thalia’ was, in ancient Greek, lots of different people (I think back then it was like calling your kid ‘Harry’ or ‘Olivia’). One of the three grace’s was Thalia, Thalia was also the muse of comedy, she was a Nereid, one of Doris and Nereus’s fifty daughters (Doris, I bet she liked all those crazy coloured bedding plants too, its a small jump from Coronation Street to ancient Greece after all), and also, most likely the one the flower was named after, a nymph. This Thalia was a nymph of plant life and new growth. Apparently the not so polite Zeus turned into an eagle, stole Thalia away, had his wicked way with her, then buried her in the ground on Sicily to hide her from his wife, from where her twins, (born of this umm… ‘interaction’?) rose from the earth. OK, it sort of makes sense to name a flower after her. The fantastic world of plant names and boundlessly ingenious Greek myth …
I have just been reading about Harold Peto, garden designer and Victorian. His gardens reflected the Victorian fascination with all things classical, and their reverence for Italian and Renaissance Gardens. I bet Thalia graced his terraces too. It is no wonder plant nomenclature and classification, (err… ‘taxonomy’?) formalised by Victorian plant hunters and collectors after all, and still used today, has a good old story lurking in the shrubbery. If its too cold out there, mimic the blackbird by kicking about in the crispy leaves of history and unearth a wealth of interesting stories, people, places and plants, of an afternoon instead. Not so useful, but quite entertaining!
Nestled safely behind the daffs, and a prickly rosebush, we found this nest. The kids have been watching as more eggs appear each day, and the mother pheasant leaves every morning (off to fertilize more eggs, according to Chris!), and returns every night to lay more. We have called her Doris (after Thalia’s mother, I just hope for her sake she doesn’t have fifty babies – aaaagh!). The Garden Gate Plant of the Week will keep you updated on their progress, and will do its utmost to keep nosy labradors away from the eggs. Good luck little Doris x