Yesterday when I was rushing out of the door with my hands full, trying to get everyone to where they needed to before the morning, I noticed a tiny bit of yellow poking up from my flowerbed. I realized that it must be the tips of my daffodils beginning to emerge. When we moved in, we already had an array of daffodils, iris and peonies planted but of course I added more of all of that in the years that have followed.
There is a lot to be said about spring bulbs emerging that can almost wash away the cold and darkness of winter and bring you back into a happier mindset just by looking at them. The tough part of that reality is when you see them in other people’s yards and don’t have any of your own to enjoy up close, and then realize that if you are wanting to plant some that you must plant the fall prior.
Daffodils are one of my favorites with their trumpet shaped flowers that gently nod in the breeze. They are among the first of the spring bulbs to emerge, along with crocus and hyacinths. These days daffodils, also known as Narcissus, come in an array of exciting colors. They used to be only available in classic yellow, and yellow rimmed with orange. Now you can order lime green varieties, white with peach edges, and ones that are full of wonderful fragrances. Gardening and flowers are evolving.
In the country of Wales if you spot the first Daffodil it is said that the following year is to be filled with wealth. They think so highly of Daffodils there that they are the National Flower.
As beautiful as these flowers can be, make sure if you cut them to place as a bouquet that you don’t mix them with other flowers in the same vase. The sap from them can be poisonous to other flowers. If you absolutely feel that you must add them to a mixed bouquet soak them in water on their own for 24 hours and let them release some of that sap, before adding to a vase with clean water and other flowers. At our house Daffodils on their own in a vase are the true version of a classic bouquet in my eyes.
As far as in the garden, many folks turn to planting daffodils because they are typically wildlife resistant. As in the squirrels won’t bother them, the deer won’t eat the blooms off, and most other animals find them unappealing unlike tulips where the deer will feast on the opening buds like they are candy.
They are also one of the easiest bulbs to grow and let naturalize an area of your yard. All bulbs will form bulblets which are mini bulbs on the sides of what is known as the mother bulb. These can be divided off to grow on their own or left in place.
If you leave them in place you will one day have a carpet of blooms but be careful that they new bulblets don’t overcrowd each other. If this happens, they will take the energy from the mother bulb and eventually kill out the center of you cluster of blooms. In this case you can dig up a clump of bulbs after they have flowered and split the little ones off the sides and replant them with no more than three bulbs to a hole.
I do a single bulb per hole and spread them out so that I am not turning around in a year or two and having to dig everything back up. I can usually wait around six or seven years before having to divide again.
Whatever you do, be sure to take a moment and stop your self to enjoy the beauty that is beginning to emerge from below this spring. It may be just what we all need to take a well deserved break from our regular over paced every days.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org