Winter-weary gardeners will note that clumps of sunny yellow daffodil trumpets have just popped open to herald the arrival of balmy spring breezes this week.
From teensy Tête-á-Tête miniatures to 20-inch high Ice Follies, these spring-flowering bulbs can be naturalized to return year after year with prolific blooms.
These flowers are just two of more than 28,000 named hybrid daffodils, most of which have been registered with England's Royal Horticultural Society, according to horticulturalist Sara Van Beck, author of the just-released book Daffodils in American Gardens, 1733-1940.
The beauty and complexity of daffodils, or botanically speaking Narcissus, can be seen up-close at the daffodil show sponsored by the recently organized Kentucky Daffodil and Bulb Society and approved by the American Daffodil Society.
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Exhibitors may enter daffodils for judging according to categories and rules which can be found on the KDABS website. Visitors can learn a lot about daffodil classification and varieties, and even pick up a few ideas for bulbs to plant in the fall. Divisions like trumpets, doubles, jonquillas, poets, and miniatures in color combinations of yellow, white, orange, pink and more will be represented.
Lisa and Michael Kuduk of Winchester are the main organizers of this show. They have been raising and exhibiting daffodils since 2003.
At first, spring-blooming bulbs were simply part of their home landscape plan.
The idea of exhibiting their flowers was inspired by a 2005 trip to retail bulb producers Brent and Becky Heath's gardens in Gloucester, Va. Armed with recommendations from their guide Susan Appel and cultivation advice from the American Daffodil Society, which they joined, the Kuduks entered their first show in Nashville in 2006.
Throughout the following years, they gained experience and support through their contacts with fellow enthusiasts.
"We won our first purple ribbon for best collection of five daffodils in Nashville in 2009. We won our first gold ribbon for best in show in 2010, and our first ribbon for a large (12 stem and up) collection in 2012," Michael Kuduk notes.
"We started attending regional and local bulb swaps in 2009, and now grow 350 varieties from virtually every division and from every decade going back to 1890. We especially like entering historic daffodils, as I am fascinated that a flower that was introduced over 75 years ago can still grow with exceptional vitality and can look great on the show bench.
"I continue to be amazed at the variety of colors and sizes represented in the species, and after a long, ugly winter, their blooms are always a welcome sight."
Daffodils are some of the easiest flowers to grow. Bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil in cool fall weather. They must go through a cold winter chilling period of about three months to bloom in spring. While actively growing, daffodils need a sunny spot. Because energy produced by the leaves is stored in the bulb for the next year's growth, leaves should be allowed to remain on the plant until they begin to yellow after the flowers are gone.
Daffodils can grow and bloom for many years. Deer and rodents will not eat them. They multiply by growing new bulb offsets which can be dug up, divided and dried in a shady spot with good air circulation during the summer months, then replanted in the fall.