Other Varieties or New Varieties
Why not? Few significant new varieties of polyanthus (pure tazetta) narcissus have been introduced to the trade since before 1914 except for Early Cheer ('Erlicheer'), discovered in New Zealand as a mutation from the very old Grand Primo, and a few Paper White crosses made in Israel in the 1970's. If this were 100 years ago, 300 varieties would be available from Holland, as these were one of their main bulb crops. But with the development of King Alfred and other large-flowered daffodils around 1900 by the English, the Dutch turned their attention to those more cold-hardy (and cold-requiring) daffodils.

The polyanthus narcissus varieties, ideal for California and other Mediterranean climates, were a bit marginal in the most severe Dutch winters, and with relatively few people living in California and similar climates, the bulbs were marketed primarily for once-only indoor use in pots, to be discarded after bloom, or used individually in hyacinth glasses. This was a somewhat limited market compared with the potential for the standard daffodil which could be used for outdoor mass planting in much of Europe and North America.

Production soon ceased, and the result of centuries of hybridization work was lost forever, as most varieties never made it into enough old gardens for them to survive as an "old garden plant." Those that did survive were the most ancient ones, as they had become inexpensive enough to be mass planted on the new cutflower farms in milder climates that the advent of rail transport had made profitable.

A few of the others had made it into old gardens in New Zealand, Australia, southern USA, and the Channel and Scilly Isles of England, where they are occasionally rediscovered by bulb hobbyists, but unusual varieties and gardens old enough, are becoming fewer and fewer. Commercial availability of these has been nonexistent since before 1914. Since my earliest teenage years I have devoted my life to tracking down as many as possible and am now recognized worldwide as the leading authority in the world on the subject, having the most genetically diverse collection in existence. Much hybridizing is now in progress here (see Bulb Baron's Hybrids) and three new varieties have already been registered: Liquid Sun, Avalanche of Gold, and New Glory. The first two are already available for sale, and many others will be in the future.

Copyright 2002-2003 by Bill the Bulb Baron