In Search of Daffodils

By Nicola Iseard

Nicola Iseard goes in search of the best places to find buttery-gold daffodils in England

Daffodils at RHS Garden Wisley © RHS ImagesDaffodils at RHS Garden Wisley © RHS Images
RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey

With over 240 acres of glorious gardens, the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley Gardens are worth a visit at any time of the year, but come spring the golden drifts of daffodils are a real tonic after the dull winter months. Take a stroll down to the Trials Gardens, where there are over 70 different varieties of daffodil, from the miniature Tête-à-Tête to the classic trumpets, many of which began flowering in early January, with more set to flourish over the next few weeks. You can spot daffodils emerging all over the garden - look out for them in the Wild Garden, Rock Garden and Seven Acres, with its large pond and lush plants. Visit www.rhs.org.uk for visiting info.

Farndale, Yorkshire

When it comes to early spring rambles, there is nowhere quite like Farndale, a beautiful, deep valley of patchwork quilt fields divided by ancient drystone walls and narrow winding lanes. The dale is most famous for its daffodils, which are reputed to have been planted by the monks of nearby Rievaulx Abbey. Every spring, thousands of wild daffodils bloom along the banks of the River Dove, creating a wonderful carpet of colour. This is idyllic walking country and, even at the height of daffodil season, it still feels utterly unspoilt. Follow the picturesque, one-mile 'daffodil walk' north along the banks of the River Dove to High Mill, and you'll be in for a real treat.

Dymock Woods, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

In the 1930s, the Great Western Railway used to run "Daffodil Special" day trips from London to see the fields of flowers that spread across the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border. While the trips are long past, the daffodils are still very much there. Dymock Woods is particularly pretty, carpeted with bright yellow blooms, and there are several waymarked walks to help you explore the landscape - there is even a special Daffodil Way. The gentle, circular walk takes you through the wild daffodil country, along field edges, past orchards and meadows, and through Dymock Wood.

Dunsford Nature Reserve, Devon

Managed by the Devon Wildlife Trust and covering 57 hectares, Dunford Nature Reserve is a glorious mix of shady woodland, riverside walks and a wide array of wildlife. Best of all, the landscape is carpeted with thousands of daffodils, and there is a fantastic two-mile walk along the River Teign where the banks are covered with golden Narcissus. Lighter in colour and more delicate than garden-variety daffodils, these spread naturally, making each year's display more impressive than the last. Keep your eye out for rare marsh fritillary butterflies, with their striking, bright orange colourings, which flutter through the area in mid-spring.

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