Heirloom Daffodils

“soft colors, heavenly fragrance, delicate shapes and elegant habit for a unique, vintage spring bulb garden.”

“collect, grow and help us to preserve these historic bulbs!”

about Heirloom Daffodils

Welcome to Heirloom Daffodils! Our mission is to collect, grow and preserve historic daffodils. These tough flowers with their soft colors, heavenly perfume and delicate, graceful forms have been delighting gardeners for hundreds of years. By offering a small selection of spare bulbs, we hope you will help us preserve these treasured antiques for future generations by starting your own heirloom flower collection!
Indulge today... thank us each spring.

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Fall 2015 bulb selection

Mrs Langtry - William Backhouse, pre 1869

TRUE TO NAME STOCK! A top performing free flowering heirloom with, at times, multiple blooms per stem and multiple stems per bulb. Beautiful white petals and a heavily crinkled cup that opens canary yellow but soon turns creamy white with only a thin yellow hallow remaining around the brim.

Guy Wilson wrote in 1929 - “I hope we shall not lose altogether some of the older flowers of such undeniable beauty and grace as ‘Mrs. Langtry’.”

Absolutely beautiful and a top recommendation for any spring garden!

Primrose Phoenix - James Walker, pre 1902

A VERY RARE and, unfortunately, endangered heirloom available only from Heirloom Daffodils.com!! Not known to be grown or offered for sale by any historics collectors or commercial provider. The soft primrose yellow segments form perfect rose like blooms which put on its show in the garden late-mid to late spring.

From Barr's Nursery Catalogs - Barr & Sugden January 1, 1906 - "a valuable addition to this section of Double Daffodils : the large double rose-shaped flowers are of a beautiful soft lemon shade; much prized for vaces, ht. 20 in. Award of Merit R.H.S"

Help us to preserve this wonderful heirloom wont you?!?

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Elegans - Edward Leeds, pre 1851

Another RARE find not offered in the trade for many, many years. Not to be confused with the fall-blooming Tazettae; THIS Elegans, with it charming wild flower form, has perianth segments that open a light yellow with a yellow cup possessing a thin orange brim when the weather allows. Once the sun has its way however, the petals turn white and the cup a bright yellow.

Another garden antique that deserves to be widely grown for another 160+ years.

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Thank you to Joe Hamm (past ADS Historics Committee chairman) who helped in identifying this endangered heirloom for us. Many thanks Joe!

Telamonius Plenus aka "Van Sion", pre 1620

This ancient double is as tough and rugged as they come. Most often found in abandoned homesites growing unattended, with no care, yet gladly offer blooms each spring. A fine addition to any historically accurate plantings. While a nicely formed double can be awarded to the gardener from time to time, most often it will simply blast into a large mopped top of yellow and greenish whirls.

"...the most important of all doubles" states A.M. Kirby in his "Daffodils Narcissus and How to Grow Them", 1907.

If you appreciate heirlooms, their history and the value they bring to the garden, Van Sion is a "must add" to the spring bulb collection.

elamonius Plenus aka "Van Sion", pre 1620

White Lady - Rev. G.H. Engleheart, 1897

Another classic, old fashioned favorite. It's crisp, elegant white petals blend beautifully with its dainty, nicely ruffled cup which opens a pale yellow and slowly fades to a beautiful canary yellow. Delicate yet a fantastic garden performer. "I have large numbers naturalized in the orchard, where they multiply and flower ungrudgingly. They are splendid for cutting and equally satisfactory growing." states garden writer WILLIAM D. IRVIN ARNOLD in 1922.  J HORACE McFARLAND praises her beauty - "She is fair and dainty, with her crinkled chalice of palest canary set in a broad skirt—so may the perianth be termed—of clear white".

Excellent in the deep south! Blooms late-mid season and is not particular to soil or sun. Should be grown by every well-deserving gardener!

Princeps - unknown, pre 1830

A personal favorite.  Large by any standard but especially so for a selection of the species "Pseudo-Narcissus" (species). Princeps has an antique, old fashioned look with its elegent, forward swept petals which open sulpher yellow and fades to creamy white. A perfect backdrop for the long, bright yellow trumpet. Looks perfectly in place against my weathered, colonial picket fence. A grace and beauty that simply cannot be matched by modern cultivars that look stiff and straight by comparison.

"Immense pale sulphur trumpets, as large as maximus, sulphur or creamy-white segments, excellent for naturalizing in grass".3 "A bold and handsome flower" says Burbidge in 1885."2

Seagull - Rev. G.H. Engleheart, pre 1893

Long, spreading, clean white petals set off the shallow, bright yellow cup edged in pale orange or red quite nicely.

A Victorian classic introduced with its twin "Albatross" (from the same seed pod), by the famous hybridizer Reverend Engleheart. This popular daffodil was sold by the truck load at the turn of the century. While thousands of daffodils introduced around that period have been lost to time, Seagull persisted thanks to it vigor (I'm sure its clean, fresh look didn't hurt either!) and excellent performance in teh garden.

Glowing Phoenix - R.O. Backhouse, pre 1930

Another heirloom double, this one created in the last century my R.O. Backhouse and introduced by Mrs. (Sarah) R.O. Backhouse. A strong grower and a bit larger than the typical classic cottage garden double. This Phoenix opens a light, sulpher yellow and turns a clean white with bright orange inner segments that certainly makes a statement each spring. Excellent in the garden and as a cut flower with it's nice light scent.

Glowing Phoenix will surely brighten any spring garden or fist of cut flowers.

Major Spurius, aka "Early Trumpet Major", unknown, pre 1886

SAVE THE BULBS! A strong preservation effort is needed. Just identified this past spring, Major Spurius has been commercially extinct for well over 100 years. We are happy to announce its arrival, properly named and back for early spring action.

A very nice all yellow trumpet whose value is not only in its deep yellow coloring but, more importantly, it's extremely early bloom time. In spring 2010, the Major bloomed a full week earlier in our northern garden than Goldern Spur. Where the entire daffodil bloom season is 4 to 5 weeks, at best, this is indeed VERY EARLY!!

"Major Spurius, also known as Early Flowering Major, Early Trumpet Major, and Spurius Major, is in reality a type of Single Van Sion. A splendid winter forcer, and valuable for cut flowers. Similar in form to the true Trumpet Major, but somewhat smaller and lighter in colour. Spurius Major is two to three weeks—some claim four weeks—earlier." - Arthur Martin Kirby.

Early color in the garden is so exrermely enjoyable after a long winter. Start your flower season early with "Early Trumper Major"!

"Mrs R.O. Backhouse"- R.O. Backhouse, 1921

Known for years as THEE Pink Daffodil. Her long, straight "stove pipe" trumpet opens more apricot/orange than pink. Her head nods gracefully and is nicely hooded by large ivory petals that twist elegantly around the trumpet which fades to a quite nice "shell pink".

"scarely any other single variety has so captured the interest of the public as this one"8.

A personal favorite and just a wonderful heirloom that brings such grace and beautify to the spring garden. Nice fragrance as well. Shows exceptionally well with all white daffodils and purple hyacinth! Mid-late blooming so plan accordingly.

N. Odorus, aka 'Campernelli', pre 1601

"It is an effective species... both segments and cup being of a deep golden-yellow colour, and the flowers are moreover deliciously fragrant. It is very robust in habit, and readily establishes itself in any deep, rich, well-drained, garden soil."6

An absolute favorite and everything a spring flower should be. Garden performance, a beautiful yellow, superbly fragrant awith elegant, twisted petals and a gorgeous 6 lobed cup.

Very highly recommended!

N. Odorus, aka 'Campernelli',  pre 1601

N. poeticus var. recurvus, aka "Pheasant's Eye", pre 1600

"TRUE HEIRLOOM STOCK! This is one of the most beautiful, as well as the most common of the species. A border of this Narcissus, after the bulbs get well established, has no equal among early flowers"4 A late blooming (nearly last) certainly does not test the age old saying "saving the best for last". A small, delicate bloom with strongly recurved petals of clear white with a shallow, nearly disk like cup of green, yellow and crimson rimmed. Fabulously scented! Excellent as a cut flower and suggest growing as many as possible so you can enjoy the blooms in the boarder and have enough to be brought indoors to enjoy the perfume.

Buyer beware! Many poeticus varieties are substituted as 'Pheasant's Eye' or 'Poets Narcissus', so be careful in purchasing this antique, TRUE TO NAME variety.

Narcissus Incomparabilis aka "Peerless Daffodil", pre 1600

NEWLY IDENTIFIED!! In Latin, Incomparabilis means "incomparable, unique, of no equal"... can any higher praise can be bestowed upon a garden favorite??

This, the single form of "Butter and Eggs", dates back to the earliest recorded daffodils and can often be found growing on abondanded homesites across the south along side N. Odorus, N. Pseudo-Narcissus, N. X medioluteus (aka "Twin Sisters") or the old cottage doubles we love so well. While Incomparabilis opens with yellow petals and an orange tinged cup, she quickly fades to nearly white with a nicely lobed, short yellow cup. A beautiful heirloom flower yet hardly will you find a daffodil that requires so little attention yet prospers as does this heirloom.

"It is a very hardy bulbous plant, and flowers in April; in its single state it is very ornamental, the petals are usually pale yellow, and the nectary inclined to orange, which towards the brim is more brilliant in some than in others; in its double state, it is well known to Gardeners, by the name of Butter and Egg Narcissus." - "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis (volumn 1 published in 1794).

Whilst an old friend, its a welcome back I say!

Narcissus Incomparabilis aka "Peerless Daffodil".
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This ancient daffodil has been wrongly named for many years. First as "Sir Watkin" and more recently "Stella" or Stella Superba". After years of research and field study, we are happy to say that this old beauty is non other than Narcissus Incomparabilis aka "Peerless" or "None-such" Daffodil detailed by the old Botanist Parkinson. Bloom time, color fade and general growth and habit are identical to that of "Butter and Eggs". While we need to get more concensious on this, I am quite confident that this beloved heirloom is indeed the ancient N. Incomparabilis!!

Golden Phoenix aka "Butter & Eggs", "rose-like" var., pre 1777

Golden Phoenix, know as “Butter & Eggs”, is another old fashioned favorite. While this charming name gets mistakenly applied to many yellow doubles, this fabulously scented old double is the REAL southern gem that has been grown by our grandmothers for countless generations. Along with Orange Phoenix, this double blooms very well even in the deep south yet blooms happily even after our frigid Wisconsin winter.

Peter Barr mentions 2 varieties of Butter & Eggs in his well known 1884 publication “Ye Narcissus or daffodyl flowre, containing hys historie and culture”.

Golden Phoenix aka "Butter & Eggs", "cup of florets" var., pre 1777

Peter Barr, the great British daffodil collector, hybridizer and nurseryman of the late 1800’s mentions 2 varieties in his well known 1884 publication “Ye Narcissus or daffodyl flowre, containing hys historie and culture”.

Barr states - "Of this there are at least two varieties differing in the colour of the flower, and the shade of green in the foliage. One appears to have come from a pure full yellow, the other from a sulphur yellow, and for observation it is suggested that the yellow more generally gives the full rose-like flower, and the sulphur the full cup of florets with the divisions of the perianth free as in the single. It is moreover suggested that from this latter the occasional single flowers come".

We are happy and proud that we grow both the “rose-like” (above) and this absolutely beautiful “cup of florets” variety. Please help us to preserve and protect these well loved garden favorites for future generations. Start your heirloom daffodil collection today! Quite sure you will thank us if you do.

Orange Phoenix aka "Eggs & Bacon", pre 1731

An old cottage garden favorite. While Golden Phoenix is wonderfully fragrant, the lighter, sweetly scented Orange Phoenix with it’s recurved pure white perianth and contrasting orange & white inner whirls is absolutely stunning! A favorite of anyone to who see’s this blooming in the garden. Such a shame this double has been out of commercial distribution for well over 75 years. Pity.

Exceptional for cutting.

N. Biflorus, aka 'Primrose Peerless', pre 1597

"N. biflorus, a supposed natural hybrid between a poeticus and N. polyanthus or a Tazetta. The bloom is primrose coloured and inexpressibly sweet."1

"N. Biflorus, more beautiful than even N. Poeticus, filled the air with rich fragrance."

A (very) old fashioned favorite that naturalized very well. Often found in old southern gardens, blooming happily with no care...as easy a flower can get.

Start your antique daffodil collection today to share with generations to come!

historic print of N. Biflorus, aka 'Primrose Peerless', pre 1597

Barrii Conspicuus - William Backhouse, pre 1869

A true classic... a lasting product of the Victorian renaissance. Along with Ornatus, Emperor and Empress... "Barrii" ruled the spring garden for well over 50 years and is still grown in many gardens today. A vigorious grower and sweetly scented with reasonably broad perianth segments. The colour a deep sulphur yellow and a short cup fringed and edged in a "conpicuus" orange-scarlet. This glorious heirloom will bloom year after year with little care. Multiples well and grows in nearly any soil.

A legenday heirloom for the spring garden.

Ornatus - James Walker, pre 1870

Gracing the spring garden for nearly 150 years, this early blooming (early mid-season for us) is a tall and robust poeticus and make a fabulous addition to any spring bulb garden. From Barr's Nursey Catalog, Barr & Sugden 1906 - "It is interesting to watch the gradual improvement, and how in the course of a few years varieties become suoerseded by others. In a few cases there seems to be little fear of a variety losing its popularity. For instance, what is to oust EMPEROR, EMPRESS, BARRII CONSPICUUS, and POETICUS ORNATUS from the position they have long held." Here here... long live these splendid spring flowers which many generations have grown and loved.

Still outstanding by ANY measure and, as with all poet's, a heavenly frangance!

N. Pseudo-Narcissus Anglicus, pre 1200

"This, the true English Daffodil or Lent Lily....one of the prettiest of a showy tribe..."1

"Anglicus", in a single word, explains what the English gardener thought of this heavenly flower. The "common" daffodil, brought to the America's by the earliest English settlers, is a very early bloomer with a long, dark yellow trumpet and a hooded, light yellow perianth giving it an unmistakable old fashioned, wild flower look. A flower looking at home in the edge of a tree-line, in the orchard or in the front garden.

A living piece of garden history!

Stella - William Backhouse, pre 1869

TRUE TO NAME! This well loved classic has gone misnamed for years. We welcome back this elegant beauty with great excitement! Breed by William Backhouse, the same hybridizer who brought us Emperor and Empress, this Victorian classic was sold by the millions both as a bulb and bloom in the cut flower market. Enjoying world-wide popularity of nearly 50 years, she was one of the pioneering achievements of the Victorian daffodil renaissance.

Quoting the 1890 Popular Gardening and Fruit Growing article which accompanied the sketch to the right - "Stella belongs to the medium Trumpet flowered section of Daffodils, and is one of loveliest of easily grown plants. The color of the outer whorl is creamy white—the cup lemon yellow. The entire flower and form of growth is marked by extreme beauty and delicacy, hence it is not strange that it is one of the most popular forcing and cutting varieties for the flower market."

Old sketch of Stella heirloom daffodil.
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PRESERVATION AT WORK! This Victoria classic had gone mis-named and unidentified for years. Recently, yours truly at preserve.heilommdaffodils.com, after years of field study and research was able to announced her proper return to the American Daffodil Society Historics Committee. Finally, after confirmation by England's premier daffodil hybridizer and nurseryman, we are EXTREMELY EXCITED to have given Stella her proper name back.

Texas - Mrs R.O. (Sarah) Backhouse, 1921

A flower the size of Texas thought our beloved Sarah Backhouse. Okay, not really, but this petal packed double is astonishingly large in bud and bloom. A beautiful old double is packed with yellow and orange petals...a very nice form and was important as a commercial cut flower for many years and is as stunning today. Texas is a rare double and has not been offered by Old House Gardens for many years. By sharing this old heirloom we hope to extend this spring beauty for many more generations.

Like other doubles, Texas has a tendency to blast in dry areas of the country. A location that is shaded or provides shelter from drying winds will help in providing spectacular spring blooms.

Fall 2015 other heirloom flower selections

Lycoris squamigera, aka "Surprise Lily", pre 1861

TRUE HEIRLOOM STOCK! Lycoris squamigera was introduced to the United States in 1861 by way of a shipment to American historian and leading horticulturist Francis Parkman Jr. (September 16, 1823 – November 8, 1893) in Boston, Massachusetts, from George Rogers Hall (March 1820 – December 24, 1899).1

"In late summer, bare stalks rocket up out of nowhere, opening into shimmering, lavender-pink, amaryllis-like flowers." This Asian wildflower is “nearly ideal for the middle and upper South,” Scott Ogden writes in Garden Bulbs for the South. 2 Please be patient as it re-establishes itself.

A hardy, reliable and beautiful heirloom.

Contact Heirloom Daffodils

Feel free to email us any time. From help with identification, exchanging or purchasing of bulbs or any questions you may have about our Heirloom Daffodils! We love to hear from you!