HOW TO PLANT SOME HAPPINESS – CELEBRATING DAFFODILS
We had the bleakest few weeks here in the lovely Blue Mountains during the middle of July. It was unusually cold with temperatures lower than they had been recorded in five years and amazing snowfalls over the top of the mountains (about 30 minutes’ drive from our humble home). There was so much snow that some roads and schools were closed and the rail service was affected.
I grant you that snow is beautiful and amazing (I spent the first four years of my life in Michigan, USA and I remember snowy winters). One of my daughters in law went up the mountain with her hubby and kids to see and play in snow for the first time in her life. They all had so much fun and the smiles on their faces (we saw the pics) were heart-warming. But that was the only thing that was warm! I’m not a fan of cold weather. And we were not getting the beautiful winter wonderland snow here, just grey skies and cold. I was feeling sad. Then I walked into our front yard and saw its first daffodil of the season and my spirits lifted, my heart swelled and my smile was huge. This was sunshine in the bleakness. This was a reminder that spring was yet to come. Amazing how one little flower can make you so incredibly happy.
I have to admit they are not even my favourite flowers. It’s hard to have a favourite when there are so many choices – the divine smell of gardenias, roses and frangipani, the grand divaness (I know that’s not really a word) of the bird of paradise, the sweetness of violets. And then there are so many cool things to do with flowers, other than put them in a vase. Check out my post, Pressed Flowers – It’s Easy for some ideas.
Anyway, I am pretty impressed with sunflowers. Not sure if it’s because I see a fellow sun worshipper, so keen on the warmth it will battle to grow closer to the sky. Or because they’re the giants of their species and I’m the shorty in ours.
Ah, but when the sky is grey and the wind is icy there is something about that bright, bright yellow of the daffodil that cuts through the cold and grey.
To quote Clinton Scollard;
“It is daffodil time, so the robins all cry, for the sun’s a big daffodil up in the sky, And when down the midnight the owl call “to-whoo”! Why, then the round moon is a daffodil too; Now sheer to the bough-top the sap starts to climb, so, merry my masters, its daffodil time”.
There are actually up to 60 species of wild daffodils and with new varieties produced each year, there are at least 13,000 different types.
They are traditionally the announcers of the beginning of spring and the waking of nature though they sometimes jump in a little early and are one of the rare species of plant that are able to successfully grow through the snow.
MORE FUN DAFFODIL FACTS
Did you know they have a toxic sap in their stem? This means they shouldn’t be in a vase with other flowers as it will harm them unless the daffodils have soaked for 24 hours first. Ancient Romans prized daffodils as they thought their sap had healing powers, however, florists can develop an allergic reaction on the skin called “daffodil itch” after preparing floral arrangements made of daffodils. Their bulbs contain a compound called narciclasine which scientists believe may be effective in treating brain cancer. They have also been grown for galanthine, which was being investigated for use to help Alzheimer’s.
Poultry farmers believe they will stop their hens from laying, so they are banned from the house (glad I’m not a poultry farmer!).
High born medieval ladies used the yellow flower dye to tint their hair and eyebrows.
They were a symbol of chivalry during Victorian times. They are a symbol of hope today.
In fact, the Cancer Council, Australia, chose the daffodil as its emblem as “it heralds the return of spring, pushing its way through the frozen earth after a long winter, representing new life, vitality and growth”.
Each August, the Daffodil Day appeal is run to raise funds for cancer research. By supporting the cause, we show our support for the 145,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer each year. One in two Australians are diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
Well when I spotted that first daffodil on that cold, cold day, it sure gave me hope.
In Wales, where the daffodil is the national flower, it is said if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth. Does it count if it’s the first one on your tiny patch in Australia? A year of wealth would be quite awesome.
A few days after my wonderful discovery, my happy, little, yellow friend had a mate. So now there were two. Extra happiness! I actually cut them and gave them to a dear friend. It’s a thing we do. She has given me her first jonquil (which is just another variety of daffodil) before. It made me happy as it made her happy. And before I knew it there were two more in my yard so the happiness grew.
I just noted while researching those fun daffodil facts that a single daffodil given can predict misfortune while a bunch represents happiness. According to the Sunday Express, Prince Charles is annually given one daffodil as rent for land on the Isles of Scilly. Are they trying to tell him something? By the way, is two a bunch? So happy I didn’t give my friend just one daffodil and keep the other for myself. I was tempted!
The best time to plant daffodil bulbs is in autumn, once the heat of summer has passed and after the first autumn rains. For those in the northern hemisphere, September is the go. For Aussies that means waiting until next March or April.
HOW TO PLANT HAPPINESS
Daffodils grow perennially from bulbs and often grow in clusters.
They like a well-drained, sunny place.
When planting, ensure the pointy end of the bulb (the top) is at least two times as deep as the bulb is high as this will help stop it from breaking and keep the plant standing upright for longer.
Daffodils like lots of water while they are growing.
Once the flower has finished, don’t be tempted to cut the green stems until they turn yellow.
Using a good organic bulb fertilizer is a good idea. Hopefully, this will ensure you have even more daffodils to enjoy the following year.
Happy planting and wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.