“A daffodil bulb will divide and redivide endlessly. That’s why, like the peony, it is one of the few flowers you can find around abandoned farmhouses, still blooming and increasing in numbers fifty years after the farmer and his wife have moved to heaven, or the other place, Boca Raton. If you dig up a clump when no one is nearby and there is no danger of being shot, you’ll find that there are scores of little bulbs in each clump, the progeny of a dozen or so planted by the farmer’s wife in 1942. If you take these home, separate them, and plant them in your own yard, within a couple of years, you’ll have a hundred daffodils for the mere price of a trespassing fine or imprisonment or both. I had this adventure once, and I consider it one of the great cheap thrills of my gardening career. I am not advocating trespassing, especially on my property, but there is no law against having a shovel in the trunk of your car.”
– Cassandra Danz (gardening personality, Mrs. Greenthumbs)
I cannot remember a springtime more in need of the arrival of its most anticipated herald, the daffodil. And much like this excerpt above (and its quick-witted author), the daffodil offers immediate levity – it’s boisterous, prolific, joyful and boldly colorful. I consider it Mother Nature’s much-needed comic relief on the heels of this long, humorless pandemic winter. As far as personality goes in the garden, the daffodil is an optimist and has a bust-through-the-doors, stay-a-while and invite-all-its-friends-over unbridled fervor! If springtime is thought to usher in the hope and promise of brighter days ahead, an army of daffodils is its most welcome and enthusiastic harbinger (especially during our second pandemic April). It was the late Robin Williams who said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘let’s party!’”. I think this spring is the party we’ve all been more than anxious to attend.
In the beginning of this month on my property, there was just one, single daffodil blooming – but make no mistake, it was my beacon in a landscape of bleak. As I walked my gardens over Easter weekend, I could see them beginning to pop up all over. Now, well, we’ve been blissfully invaded! Oh, the joy those initial buds brought me this year. Few flowers fill me with the same excitement and enthusiasm for renewal and new growth as the daffodil.
Currently, I’ve estimated that there must be more than a half a million daffodils currently blooming (but please remember, this is the result of 35+ years of planting bulbs that quickly multiply!). It truly takes my breath away. There are massive golden swaths running through my yard like a river and they fill me with such springtime giddiness (and fill my rooms with the most gorgeous bouquets of bursting, sunshiny yellows). As a gardener, this time is so dear to me as it marks the beginning my time outside, working in the dirt, breathing the fresh air and watching all the dramatic changes occur. It’s a time I’ve been craving all winter because it feeds my languishing body and soul.
Daffodils have always been one of my favorite springtime flowers for a variety of reasons. First, they are relatively easy to cultivate and are new-gardener friendly. Bulbs are planted in late fall in fertilized soil and will yield flowers the following spring. There is a general rule of thumb on the spacing of the bulbs which is planting them at a depth of 2-3 times as high as the bulb itself and placed approximately 2 bulb-widths apart from each other. Once the flower has bloomed and died, the leaves must be left untouched to produce food for the next cycle of the bulb itself. Visually, this is not the most robust-looking stage of the daffodil in our garden, so some will surround them with other plants to hide this phase. They cannot be fully shaded though, as they need partial light to thrive. Once planted, daffodils multiply quickly, blanketing fields or creating lush, vibrant bands of eye-popping color in our gardens. Their charming faces and bursts of vibrant color have our gardens buzzing with springtime glee!
Daffodils are deer and squirrel-repellent, making them this northwestern Connecticut gardener’s most stalwart ally in the war against our garden-trashing fauna! Unlike my hostas (which deer treat like their own personal salad bar), daffodils are toxic and are immune from their ravenous bouts of hunger. To this point, we need to protect our furry family indoors from bouquets of daffodils. The bulbs, flowers and even the water from vases filled with daffodils can be toxic to pets, so precautions must be taken when displaying these beautiful blooms in our homes.
Another reason to adore daffodils is the endless varieties that exist. Although that classic yellow trumpet head is perhaps the most recognizable and nostalgic of all the daffodil shapes and colors, there are so wany swoon-worthy varieties, in shades of gold, lemon, tangerine, cream, fire and salmon that may be planted as companions to the classic. Much like roses, the daffodil has been cultivated for hundreds of years, so there is an intricate system of classification that has been developed over time. Different varieties present the gardener with a wide range of colors, shapes, textures and layering. Some of my favorite varieties include the Petit Four, Crewenna, Ziva, Red Devon, Sir Winston Churchill, New Baby, Tahiti, Mary Gay Lirette, and the Pheasant’s Eye. Any member of the plant genus, Narcissus, could be considered a daffodil. There are at least 40 and possibly as many as 200 different species in the genus as well as over 25,000 registered cultivars (called hybrids) classified into 13 Divisions according to the Royal Horticultural Society classification system. This classification system helps settle certain debates about the daffodil. Many wonder, for instance, if daffodils and jonquils are the same thing. The short answer to that question is they almost are. In other words, ALL jonquils are daffodils, but not all daffodils are jonquils. The distinction is in the leaves and the scent – jonquils have thinner leaves that are rounded at the tips while daffodils sport slender sword-like foliage. Jonquil stems are hollow and a bit shorter than daffodil varieties. They typically have clusters of flowers on the stems and emit a subtle fragrance.
This year, daffodils mark, for me, the possibility of seeing some friendly faces safely and the kick-off to the outdoor entertaining season. I love to incorporate them into my tables for entertaining. The bold yellow works well with almost any color. Mixing them with any spring hues, such as vibrant blues and greens, creates the quintessential springtime table that conveys a sense of joy, rebirth, welcoming warmth and cheer. Nothing invites guests in like those bursts of golden blooms.
I wish you all a stretch of springtime bliss and the chance for rejuvenation. This winter has been a long, difficult one full of sadness and despair for many of us. We have toiled with the news, personal issues and the pandemic. Perhaps this warm weather has you picking yourself up a little and dusting off the cobwebs of the past few months. The chance to be outside more, to perhaps welcome in some family and friends at a safe distance and to see our worlds inch a little closer to that light at the end of the tunnel is the strand of hope we all need to follow. Take walks, breathe deeply, feel the warmth on your face and do what is restorative (and safe) for you. We are all being drawn outside – and that’s a calling I intend to follow. May the beautiful daffodils, smiling in the sun, mark the beginning of a season where you find your happiest selves, doing what makes you feel whole again!
I end my post with a picture of my radiant mom, Elaine, sitting amongst the flowers, in my daffodil-laden orchard. This is a very special place to me on my property because my mom and I spent a lot of time here together – picnicking, laughing, photographing for my projects, playing with the dogs, visiting with friends and just enjoying each other’s company. In this spot, the worries of our days (and the world) melted away. I went out there on a recent warm, gorgeous night with my pups and just stood still. The late-day sun was aglow, offering that fleeting moment of perfection before it sets. In that second I was overwhelmed and humbled with how riveting nature can be, even in its daily gestures. And although I felt like a small part of this vast world, it also felt very personal, like my mom had fashioned this scene just for the two of us.
Keep basking in those small, heartwarming moments!
Beautiful post. Enjoyed it very much! Thankful for your sharing your beautiful garden, home and flowers with us!!
Janet – thank you so much for your kind words! I’m happy to share – it keeps me going (and inspired)! Hope you are well, safe and enjoying spring!
What a beautiful post. Thank you. Even after my mom being gone over 26 years, I still have moments like that, I can almost feel her arm around me giving me a hug, our mothers are always with us but I still miss her hearing her voice, her laughter, seeing her smile every single day. Your posts help so much. Thank you for sharing your garden with us.
PS: so excited to see what you are working on with Tina!
Elizabeth – I have talked to so many since my mom passed and I think we only truly understand this once we have lost our own moms – it’s something we never get over. While the grief does not always remain so sharp, it simply changes form and the longing remains. But that level of grief only exists when the love is that great, and for that, we are eternally lucky. I’m so glad that you still feel your mom around you – it’s a testament to what you two shared and the deep love you had for each other. I look for my mom in all places of beauty because I know she is in there waiting for me to connect. Enjoy the spring and cherish your memories!
This made me smile Thank you
Joy – I’m glad it did. We all need to be doing more of that!
I loved the beauty of this article
Joy (and I love your name) – thank you so much. It was a pleasure to write – no lack of inspiration this year on my property! I hope you are enjoying the sunshine and spring and that you are staying safe!
Your words and pictures are a beautiful,
Hopeful prelude to Spring and positive
Future thinking and feeling…..”what the
World needs now”🎼…..”
Love the photo of your precious mom.
Terri – that is certainly what the world needs now! Thank you – I adore that picture as well. That is one of the perks of my work – I capture so much of my day in photos and my time with my mom was no exception. I’m so happy to have so many beautiful images of her to look back on and reflect. Enjoy the spring and stay safe!
Oh, the memories you stir while having my morning coffee…so true, so true. The very image of “kinda trespassing” that beautiful, in her day, abandoned “home…and looking through to my wondering eyes…daffodils, endless daffodils…I will never see such a site again… Your words bring me wonderment…thank you. franki
Franki – everything is always better with our morning coffee;). Thank you for your kind words. Hope you are enjoying the new life of spring and that you and your loved ones are safe!
Among all your many talents/gifts, you’re an engaging writer. I really enjoyed this posts…as I could “feel” between the lines, you joy has returned!
I do believe your dear mother is smiling down from
Heaven…as she would want nothing more than for you to be happy. Springtime in your gardens will wrap you in bliss.
Terri – what beautiful words. Thank you so much for your kindness. And you are correct – it is so difficult to carry on without those we love most but we must live life and find all the joy we may in their honor. This beginning of spring always floods me with memories of the past but also offers opportunities to honor my mom with new hard work, projects and new growth. She would have loved my new garden project and in that way, I’m able to connect her to all I’m doing without her. That way, she is then still by my side. Wishing you springtime joy!
Dear Dear Carolyne – what a thrill to get this post this morning. I’ve been looking forward to something from you for some months now and this was so beautiful and really uplifting. We had daffodils and/ or jonquils at my childhood home so they always take me back as do peonies that grew down one side of our property and those always meant the end of the school year here in St. Louis as I would always take my teacher a bouquet on the last day of school. While I haven’t used Yellow in either my gardens or my decorating in probably 30 years, this beautiful post makes me think about rethinking that. To close, I think it’s safe to say I really have come to recognize (and love) your writing style – as I was reading the opening paragraph (which was charming) I was thinking WOW this doesn’t sound like Carolyne. I felt so smart when I got to the end and discovered in fact it was an excerpt from another garden writer. Charming as I said but I just knew it wasn’t in the style I’ve come to know (obviously) and LOVE.
Kim – yes! Cassandra’s excerpt made me out loud and I just had to include it! Thank you so much for your lovely words. I often hear about people’s childhood memories connected to flowers and it’s always moves me and reminds me of the power they hold in our lives. Flowers – their exquisite visuals, their fragrance and their placement in the gardens of our memories always bring us back to the past in the flash (and so vividly). But more than that, they connect us to the hands that planted them, which are the people we love the most, as well as the passing seasons of our childhood homes. What a beautiful way to connect to our most cherished memories and family members. Daffodils have me sold on yellow (at least in the outdoors!). There is an optimism and warmth in those hues that cannot be replaced! Enjoy the spring in our beloved St. Louis!
Breathtaking! From this day forward I will travel with a shovel.
Hetty – I’s not a bad idea for a few reasons – a girl can never be too careful;). Travel safely and enjoy the springtime!
What a beautiful post. I love how your garden grows in all seasons. Daffodils’ arrival in Spring show us, even after a harsh and cold winter ( personal or weather wise) show us that life goes on.
Eve – a beautiful and touching sentiment – life does go on, thankfully. And we carry the best of past as we move on and celebrate new growth and life. Experiencing all the seasons is a gift, especially the spring! Enjoy all is has to offer and be well!
Daffodils were my mother’s favorite flower. I always bought her a bunch as soon as I saw them in the market. Of course, your beautiful post today reminded me of her. Thank you.
My daughter and her family live in the home built by her husband’s grandparents in the early 60’s. Since he was raised by a single mom, her husband spent his after school life with his grandparents. He has been gardening there, since he was a toddler “helping.” Working from home has been a boon to him, since he has all that former commuting time to work on improving the landscaping and vegetable garden. When I visit, I can enjoy the fruits of his labor. The daffodils were especially beautiful this year – planted long ago.
Susan – what a special life you have. To be a part of your daughter and son-in-law’s life on a property that meant so much to his family and to build new memories there with your family is a remarkable thing. What we hand down generation to generation strengthens a family and keeps memories alive and gardening is a way to fortify that – it gives us back the love we out into it and there is nothing more beautiful. I especially love that your mother has found her way into this lovely scenario through the daffodils. Some things just feel meant to be! Enjoy all of that and cherish the memories of your dear mom.
Thank you for sharing your gorgeous daffodils and hope for a much needed new beginning.
Jean Marie – thank you! Wishing you some springtime joy. Stay safe!
Carolyne, I have always enjoyed my gardens and totally agree that when I see the first tête-à-tête I know renewal of nature is here for the year.I was laughing out loud at the beginning of the post. As spring comes alive I think of my Mother and her garden. She taught be the joy in gardening and I am teaching my children in their homes today. There are moments in my day of gardening that I know my Mom is with me. Hope that this year will be a great year of being with friends and filled with laughter. I am sure your Mother was with you in writing this. Have a very happy and peaceful day.
Beth – I love to hear that your mom is out there in the garden with you as you pass on all you know to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I suspect mine is beside me too in the garden (hopefully in a more comfortable position;). Enjoying the things we loved to do with our moms is a way of keeping them alive and feeling like the love and the relationship live on once they are gone. I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor this summer and are able to share them, safely, with family and friends. We all need those connections to sustain joy in life. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all spring has to offer!
Your daffodils are magnificent like everything you do with grace gusto and abundance.
I too have so many special memories of times spent with my mother … I carry her in my
Heart so she is everywhere I go every step of the way 💝💝💝
“And then my heart with pleasure fills and dances with the daffodils “
Hearts love, Joanie
Joanie – I love that quote. I understand why you carry your mom in your heart everywhere you go – it’s our best way to keep all their and love beauty alive. Enjoy the daffodils and have a wonderful weekend!
Stunning pictures and thank you for sharing your beautiful daffodils. When I too see that first daffodil it makes me so happy that spring is arriving ! Thank you Carolyne for this beautiful post.
Marlene – that first daffodil was my savior this year! Enjoy all the blooms to come and have a wonderful weekend!
Love this and the last paragraph about your mom brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we all feel as though we knew your mom through your beautiful sentiments and photos. I’m also so excited about your collaboration with Tina from The Enchanted Home! I’ve been following her for years and cannot wait to see what you two have planned!!
Linda – thank you so much! It’s an exciting collaboration and a natural fit for us both! I will keep you all posted. Thank you for the kind words about my mom. Writing about her and hearing from others has brightened some of my darkest days and I appreciate your support. It’s also my way to keep her close to me – through jotting down my thoughts, stories and memories and sharing the ones I love most, I feel her presence. Enjoy your weekend!
WOW Carolyne, the post is beautiful, uplifting and inspiring, so perfect for a Friday!! Although my daffodils aren’t as abundant they are definitely a joyful sight. Thank you, be safe and stay well.
Jinnette – although they are beautiful in droves, just a cluster at the mailbox is the perfect pop of color too. Keep planting – they’ll multiply and do some of the work for you. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the warmer weather, wherever you are!
Your words – perfection, as usual.
And here are more:
She wore her yellow sunbonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor;
“Winter is dead.”
DAFFODOWNDILLY A.A. Milne
Riva – I have always loved that excerpt – so full of imagery! “Winter is dead” are the 3 words I longed to hear most this year (OK – “I love you” ranks up there too). Enjoy the sunshine and the flowers!
What a beautiful post with feelings about your mother and the endless daffodils. You help to make this spring even more special.
Caren – thank you so much – how lovely of you! I tend to think it’s the daffodils making spring so special;). Enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery!
Hi Mrs Roehm
Thank you so much for sharing! Everything you touch is so beautiful. You are unique and so elegant!💞
Lyse – how kind of you. Thank you! Hope you are safe and well!
Always a pleasure to see your posts–spectacular color in every photograph and your warm words a lovely description.
Robin – thank you so much. Enjoy the springtime and have a wonderful weekend!
I live in Hudson, NY, where Cassandra’s exuberant garden lives on. When I was young, my parents had a farm in East Texas, and every spring, the daffodils, Indian Paint Brushes and white and crimson clover made a sea of bright colours in waves across our meadows that my brother and I used to run through joyfully, ending at a tree house with a ladder to ascend, and a slide to descend. It was a remarkably carefree and fun period, when everything was possible. I’m grateful to our parents for providing us with such a charmed childhood. My mother is the same age as yours, and is still with us, for a while longer.
It must be a big adjustment for you, without your mother’s presence and support. She would want you to stay busy and do the things you enjoy. So glad to know that you are doing just that. Thanks for the nice photos. It’s a particularly lovely spring this year. We all need that.
Cynthia – it sounds like you had a beautiful childhood that produced cherished, wonderful memories. Enjoy your mom – it is a gift that you are sharing time together still. We are so lucky that our parents were so thoughtful in raising children – there is no greater legacy than that. Wishing you and your family the time to create more memories and feel each other’s love. Be well and stay safe!
Thank you, Carolyne, for another lovely and inspiring post!!
Warmly, Laurie Young
Laurie – thank you! Hope you are enjoying the benefits of springtime. And wishing you a summer of peace and joy! Stay safe!
So beautiful. Daffodils are just such happy flowers. And I happen to love yellow!
Connie – I do too! It’s so warm and energetic! I’m enjoying daffodil time more than usual because it’s giving me hope. Stay safe!
…fluttering and dancing in the breeze, a host of Golden daffodils!
I have that little Wedgewood pot – Helen Corbett of Neiman Marcus Restaurant “fame” idea of serving chocolate cake, ice cream, whipped cream and a single stemmed rose in it! “You leeep the flower pot”, Miss Corbett said! 🙏🏻
Jane – I love that story! It’s so wonderful when we have pieces that have a wonderful story or history attached to them. It makes us appreciate their beauty even more. Thank you so much for sharing that! Hope you are doing well and staying safe!
I sometimes tie my daffodil stems, after the flowers have died, with string or rubber bands to keep them from spreading out all over and taking up the view of the other flowers popping out.
Laura – I love that idea! Thank you for the tip and enjoy your daffodils!
Have you considered using a drone to get an aerial shot of your daffodils? I think it would make a great photograph with so many daffodils. I, too, love daffodils and used 1000’s at my lake property, which I have subsequently sold.
Jeffrey – I have used a drone for another project but you are right, this would be the perfect reason to use one again. That would be the best way to capture the sweeping magnitude of them, as single shots don’t do it justice! Hope you are well and staying safe!
Beautiful daffodils. The information on keeping the flowers, and water away from pets will be very helpful
Can you give me any information on the water pitcher with the daffodils in the design. The pitcher maybe pottery, and there are two pictures side by side with tables that may be set for lunch or tea. They are right before, the pictures of your dog, and your Mother.
I understand the thrill of getting the shovel out of the truck, and digging up the bulbs. I would have been a good look out.
Enjoy the Spring, and stay well.
Lillie – it is antique Majolica. I have seen pieces of it here and there online, but sadly I do not have a direct source for you. Good luck!
That was lovely snd do on point. Thank you and I wish you a fabulous summer working in your garden.
Debbie – hope your summer was lovely as well! And now autumn is nearly upon us!