The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Daffodil Workshop at North Hill

The Daffodil Meadow with a hedge of Forsythia 'Vermont Sunrise' beyond

Yesterday, I played hooky and went to workshop on the Four Ways of Using Daffodils led by Joe Eck. It was North Hill Garden's inaugural class for their new series of gardening workshops. Twice a month throughout the summer, North Hill, the remarkable garden of Joe Eck and his partner, the late Wayne Winterrowd, will host a two hour workshop.

For the first hour of the informal talk, we sat in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and Joe went over the different classes of narcissus, their uses and his favorite sources for daffodils. According to Eck, the four uses of daffodils are 1) naturalizing in a meadow 2) planted in groups of 40-50 in the bays of shrubbery 3) planting beneath roses in particular 4) forced in pots, to be placed in the house in February or in the garden in April.

I personally have had mixed success with daffodils and was interested to learn that narcissus require full sun and are very intolerant of wet soil. I also learned that some varieties are good naturalizers while others should be treated as an annual or a short-loved perennial.

During the second hour, Joe lead us around the garden to see examples of narcissus used successfully and perhaps more importantly, the failures. The highlight of the day was visiting the Daffodil Meadow. Joe and Wayne have planted large groups (50-100 of a single cultivar) of mainly large trumpets over the years. Joe estimated they have multiplied to over 100,000 bulbs. If you limit yourself to mid-season cultivars, the show will last about 3 weeks. The talk was capped up with a light lunch and a glass of wine back.

The next class on May 20th is called How To Use Magnolias in a Garden. Joe will also be leading this talk and promised to illustrate the proper pruning of magnolias in order to best integrate them into the garden. He hopes to keep the classes limited to about a dozen participants. If you get the chance to attend one of the workshops you will not be disappointed.

Beginning on April the 29 and continuing until October 8, their extraordinary garden will be open to the public each Friday and Saturday afternoon from 1:00 until 4:00. It is a great opportunity to follow the progress of the garden throughout the season. They will also be selling their books and pots will be on sale. The gardeners will be on hand to answer questions about the garden or identify unusual plants. For more information, see the North Hill Garden's website.


  1. I lived on a historical plantation in Virginia for a year and when spring came, came thousands of narcissus. What a delight and a surprise. Enjoying you blog and the inspiration.

  2. Kevin,
    I don't think I will ever have a large plot of land to plant masses of narcissus like your plantation. I will have to get a vicarious thrill from North Hill each year. Gardening experiences like that do stay etched in our memories. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog and thanks for commenting.



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