Monday, April 12, 2010

Daffodil Daze

Of the multitude of spring flowering bulbs available today daffodils (narcissus) are undoubtedly my favorite. Although for sheer flamboyance some may prefer the tulip, tulip bulbs must be replaced every few years to ensure a bountiful display. When planted with a modicum of care in a sunny spot, however, daffodils become more floriferous over time.

While it's true that when compared to tulips the color palette of the genus narcissus is somewhat limited, encompassing combinations of yellow, white, orange and a range of peachy-pinks, the individual flowers exhibit a tremendous range of forms and unlike tulips are often endowed with a lovely fragrance. Below are just a few of the varieties blooming in my garden today.

Some people are fond of the diminutive varieties that must be viewed up close to truly appreciate their delicate blossoms. I prefer more robust plants that create greater impact in the landscape. Over the years I've planted them in the hundreds and this morning I counted well over a thousand blossoms in my garden.

Mid-April is is usually the height of the daffodil season here in Seekonk. Even so I'll continue to enjoy late-flowered varieties into the early weeks of May. I've found that with judicious selection it's possible to have daffodils in bloom for a good two months each spring.

There is a downside to planting such large quantities of daffodils. In order for the bulbs to store enough energy to increase in size and re-bloom, their foliage must be allowed to ripen, a process which can last until July. Cutting back the leaves too early will weaken the bulbs. Wherever possible I try to mask the unsightly clumps with perennials, but there invariably comes a time when I tire of looking at the withering leaves.

Nevertheless, as I was cutting flowers for a bouquet this morning, I found it hard to imagine my garden without its drifts of daffodil blossoms nodding in the spring breeze.