Creating a daff-idyll at Chartwell

As you arrive into Chartwell this spring you’ll be greeted with the cheery site of over 19,000 daffodils lining the car park. The joy doesn't end there though with several thousand more to be found around the gardens. Even in a visit to the house you'll spot the iconic trumpet-shaped bloom nodding at you from the vases. With so many popping up all over, preparing for the daffodil season is a huge but rewarding task for the gardeners.

Last autumn our gardeners and volunteers added 5,000 bulbs to the car park borders, on top of the existing 14,000 bulbs. That's 19,000 daffodils waiting for your arrival this spring.

Making your way through the gardens you’ll find a fantastic array of narcissus species leading you past the rose garden, through the orchard and up through the kitchen garden.

An additional 5,000 daffodils are planted around the gardens to bring you this display. The true beauty lies in each individual species of narcissus that bloom in succession throughout the spring season, prolonging the golden cheer.

" The fields look lovely. The daffodils are in full bloom, the sheep having carefully avoided nibbling them..."
- - Sir Winston Churchill in a letter to his wife, Clementine

An early awakening

The daffodil may be a quintessential spring flower, but here at Chartwell we start preparing for them in autumn.

Every year when the weather begins to cool the gardeners begin the job of forcing daffodil bulbs over winter. This process encourages the flower to bloom as early as possible, ready to be used for display in the house for our visitors to enjoy.

Daffodil varieties suitable for forcing are carefully selected for this process, including narcissus thalia, cragford and pheasant eye along with the most apt of them all, narcissus Sir Winston Churchill.

Narcissus 'Sir Winston Churchill' in the garden at Chartwell, a National Trust property in Kent

The Sir Winston Churchill Daffodil

Winston's name has been lent to many flora over the years, including apples, roses and this beautiful daffodil. This unique variety is a far cry from its strong protruding trumpet shaped cousins, with a soft ruffled trumpet instead giving this plant a fine elegance. It’s truly a beautiful flower with it creamy-white petals framing a radiant yellow centre. Look out for it growing along the steps leading down into the kitchen garden, and growing in the cut flower bed ready for display in the house.

The process of forcing bulbs became popular in Britain in the early 1800s and was a practise used by the gardeners here when Churchill was in residence. It's a Churchill tradition we're proud to continue.

Although forced bulbs often flower for shorter periods than normal, we find that they fill an important gap in the flowering season. At this time of year there's not many flowering bulbs to decorate the rooms with. And it is certainly a better and more sustainable idea than buying in imported bulbs or flowers for the same effect.

Dafdodils lining the car park at Chartwell, a National Trust property in Kent

We get by with a little help from our friends

“The beauty of daffs is they naturally bulk up, divide and get stronger and more abundant each year. With the colder weather and our recent planting focus we’re expecting a bumper year in 2018 for daffodils at Chartwell.” - Tim Parker, Gardens and Countryside Manager. With the keen enthusiasm from our weekly volunteers and generous working holiday volunteers Tim’s ambitious planting scheme has become a reality for you to enjoy.

Thank you

We couldn't do it without you

When you stroll amongst the spring flowers you're helping the garden bloom once more