Daffodils, In A Vase


There are so many beautiful daffodils to grow, with more cultivars available each season.  This is such a deeply satisfying genus to collect because Narcissus prove so easy.  Once planted, they just keep going year to year, and each clump continues to expand.



I’ve noticed a few new clumps in odd places this spring, and I wonder, “Did I plant those there?”

Narcissus provide a generous supply of nectar for early pollinators, and allowed to go to seed, those seeds spread themselves around.  As logical as I try to be when planting bulbs in the fall, or transplanting clumps ‘in the green’ from pots to the garden the following spring, I can’t always rule out an odd placement.



A bag of bulbs and a sturdy trowel can provoke their own peculiar mania.  Once some of us begin planting, we may not be able to justify, later, all of those strange things we do with roots and bulbs.



My neighbor suffers from the same affliction.  We brag to one another about how many new daffodils we’ve planted each fall.  He has even crafted his own special bulb planting tool, which he loans to me on occasion.  It is easier on knees and back, though it allows for only one bulb at a time.



My habits run more to digging broad, odd shaped craters and stuffing them full of 3, 5, 7 or more plump bulbs and then covering them all back with sweet, moist earth and crunchy mulch.   This is best done on hands and knees, face close to the soil and both hands engaged.



A more efficient gardener would surely mark the spot with a label, or at least a golf tee.  I pack the ground snugly around the bulbs, trying to erase all signs the earth was ever disturbed so as not to alert the squirrels to this newly buried treasure.  And then I often forget myself what went where.



And that is good, because when winter turns to spring, and leaves begin to push up through the mulch, I’m left guessing which flowers will appear.



And so there are fresh surprises nearly every day as petals open and each flower turns its face up towards the sun.  How many petals?  What color, and what shape is the corona?

Is this a new hybrid, or an heirloom species daffodil?



Daffodils open over a very long season, from very early to very late.  Our first ones open sometime in February, and the latest are still opening in late April or early May.   Each new and different cultivar delights me with its unique beauty.

So many of our flowers we never cut; we enjoy them growing in the garden, but rarely bring them indoors for the vase.



But daffodils are different.  Wind and rain often blow them down.

I can walk around and ‘rescue’ those blown over, tugging each flowering stem loose, bundling them loosely in a left-handed bunch.



There is no need to explain to anyone why I’ve robbed the garden of its flowers; I’ve only saved them from the indignity of flopping on the ground.

And then we have the pleasure of their company, the pure luxury of their beauty in a vase inside, for a few precious days each spring.



Woodland Gnome 2019


About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

26 responses to “Daffodils, In A Vase

  1. Pingback: Monday Morning Blooms – 13,000 Daffodils, oh my! – priorhouse blog

  2. Love the cat shot – and the post.
    Also, I am doing a post about daffodils and wanted to know if I could share a picture of your vase of daffodils – I will give full credit to you/woodland gnome.
    If not – I can just link to the post – so no pressure.

  3. Just because we were always taught to plant them in groups of 3, 5 or 7, I instead plant them in groups of 4, 6 or 8. It looks so contrived when they are all planted in groups of the same numbers, like three birch trees.

    • It doesn’t really matter past the first year…. since they multiply so well. I’ve planted them in groups of 30 or more for large projects. It really just depends on how many bulbs I have available and how much space must be covered. The guidance to plant in odd numbers just doesn’t always hold up, and especially not with bulbs that are going to each produce multiple blooming stems.

      • Quite a while back (so long ago that I can not find it now) I wrote about how all the fern pines in the median of deAnza Boulevard in Cupertino were planted in groups of three because it looked ‘natural’. The groups were so perfectly spaced in perfect triangles, and each triangle was so perfectly spaced from other triangles. It looked so silly. What was worse is that after some of the trees were killed in a severe freeze in 1990, the Department of Public Works spend a ridiculous amount of money to replace the dead trees with big boxed specimens of the same! . . . even though the landscape had matured so much that there were too many trees, and many should have bee thinned out!

        • Tony, city public works departments and state transportation departments should hire experts to advise them, like you. I see so many ill-advised things planted near public buildings and streets, which is bad for the plants and also bad for the hardscape. My pet peeve is to see southern Magnolia grandiflora trees planted as foundation plants right up against brick buildings, and no more than 10′ apart. You’d think folks would do the research to realize how large a woody plant will get, and what conditions it requires to live.
          What is a fern pine? That is one I’ve not heard of, Tony. On first read, I thought you meant fern plants, which might spread over time. You’re talking about an conifer tree, aren’t you?

          • Fern pine is Podocarpus gracilior. It is not one of my favorites, but it happens to be remarkably useful. The roots are remarkably complaisant. It can grow into a good sized tree, but can alternatively be shorn as a hedge. Many years ago, it was planted as a foundation plant on Eichler homes (perhaps like Southern magnolias); but the intentijon was to expalier them so that they would not get big enough to cause any damage. That was at a time when gardeners actually knew something about horticulture, and knew how to espalier. Of course, many escaped their confinement and tried to grow into trees, so needed to be removed. The same used to happenn to Southern magnolias. There are a few espaliered Southern Magnolias at Saint John’s in Felton that had had been maintained very well for decades, but are not just getting shorn very badly by so-called ‘gardeners’. They really should be removed now.

            • Tony, you always teach me interesting things. That I a tree I’ve never seen growing or known about. It looks sort of like a palm branch, too. Does it really produce cones?

              Folks don’t espalier Southern Magnolias back here- at least not where I’ve seen them! There is still the small matter of their robust root system…..
              So why do you think there has been a massive regression in the knowledge, skills and good sense of ‘gardeners’?

              • Fern pine is an odd one. It produces fleshy round fruits with big round seeds. You would never guess that is related to conifers. ‘Podocarpus’ means ‘footed fruit’ because the fruit of other specie have little fleshy feet. They are even weirder.
                It seems to me that many industries have experienced similar decline of knowledge, skills and good sense. Horticultural industries seem to have gotten the worst of it. Such industries attract the most unskilled of unskilled labor and those who have flunked out of everything else. Because horticulture is no longer taken seriously, the horticultural industries also attract those who had worked in other industries, but believe that they are qualified to pursue horticultural industries, regardless of their actual qualifications.

                • Ouch! But you are. If course, correct. I would have loved to have taken my degree in Horticulture, in retrospect. I would have been happy ☺ But I was guided otherwise. Most public schools back here don’t offer courses in botany or horticulture, either, and certainly not landscape design. Some community colleges offer programs. I have great respect for the professionals I am privileged to know around here, and for the knowledgeable volunteers who share their skills and knowledge so freely. You must do a lot of teaching with your staff.

                  • I would not recommend a career in horticulture. It is extremely frustrating, and difficult to make a living at. No one respects it. You might find this to be . . . . interesting, even if rather objectionable:
                    There are actually only two and a half of us to maintain the landscapes, which is why they are in such overgrown condition.

                    • That is excellent. Thank you for sharing. I can’t imagine that guy stayed in business for very long!

                    • Part of the problem wit living in a region with millions of other people is that there are plenty of new clients to keep bad businesses going. Besides, if not him, there is someone else. There are so many different types of professionals ‘getting into’ landscaping. One of the oddest was not actually one of my clients, but was down in Ventura or Los Angeles County. He was a porn star. That sounds like a joke, but it was not.

                    • Sounds like he was doing research to prepare for his next film, maybe? Lots of us love to work with growing things, and love ‘hands on’ work where you see results materialize fairly quickly. But there is a tremendous body of information you need to master before presuming to do it for someone else! Especially, if you want to be hired to do horticultural work for others. I volunteer as a part of a team, but have lots of other more knowledgeable people nearby to consult 😉

              • Oops. I clicked ‘send’. Anyway, consumers are compelled to accept the lack of skill merely because there are no other options. I get MANY clients who really want qualified gardeners, but I am without good referrals. There are a few variables involved with this decline. Mainly, society just does not take things as seriously as it used to.

                • Very true. And many need to make fast money, with minimal commitments. A big lawn mower and a trailer to haul it…..

                  • Back when I was still compelled to work with idiots and those who just did not care, I was often told that we would not be taking care of a particular landscape long enough for particular problems to develop. For example, I recommended replacement of dwarf oleanders (that our so-called ‘gardeners’ killed by overwatering) in front of a prominent sign at the entrance of a condominium complex. When I returned for inspection a few weeks later, the replacement oleanders were a cultivar that get much too big, and would either obscure the sign, or need to be pruned so regularly that it would never bloom. The accounts manager said, “Who knows who will be taking care of this place when that happens?” We expected to lose the account faster than our problems were discovered!

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