Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Isle of Man Stamps – The Narcissus Flower





An imminent release of stamps by the Isle of Man Post Office may appear to be a little out of season, but the Narcissus flower, commonly referred to as the daffodil, will be released to coincide with their attendance at the 27th Asian International Stamp Exhibition in China during November, where a number of countries will depict Chinese flora as part of their collections.

Daffodils, in their many forms, have become a popular sight on the Isle of Man as gardeners, cheered on by their colourful array in spring time, continue to plant bulbs all over the Island.

The English wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudo-narcissus) is seldom seen growing wild on the Isle of Man, but two other varieties have neutralised successfully here. The Manx Jonquil (Narcissus minor) can be seen frequently, especially in the north of the Island, with the suggestion that it was perhaps initially brought to the Isle of Man by a Manx sailor from his travels.

Known as the ‘wild daffodil’ on the Isle of Man, the variety Van Sion was first recorded in England in the seventeenth century. Common to many places here its long standing residency has led to the acquisition of a Manx Gaelic name ‘lus y ghuiy’ which translates descriptively into ‘the goose plant’. It was said to be unlucky to pick the flowers and bring them indoors before the goslings hatched, but according to the late Dr Larch Garrad, one of the Island’s most respected botanists, any bad luck came to an end on May Eve.

Manx links to the Narcissus flourished, with the double-headed ‘Butter and Eggs’, first recorded in England in 1777, and the brightly coloured and delightfully named ‘Raggedy Ann’. However, a rare sub-species of the ‘pheasant’s eye’ (Narcissus poeticus) was identified by the Royal Horticultural Society at a site at Glenbooie, near Peel, as Narcissus poeticus ssp. Radiiflorus var. exortus.

The Royal Horticultural Society also awarded Miss A. M. Crellin of Orrisdale, in the north-west of the Island, for her work in the cultivation of daffodils in the late nineteenth century.

But nobody could see a host of golden daffodils without bringing to mind the famous poem composed by the celebrated William Wordsworth, who along with his sister Dorothy cultivated their own connections with the Isle of Man, especially with Kirk Braddan Church.

Valerie Caine
© August 2011

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