They’re here! They’re here! I saw the first golden bud before it opened. So very gorgeous.
The snowdrops and crocus have mostly finished, so it is full speed ahead with the daffodils. The daffodils even come with their own built-in self-defense mechanism. The deer and other bulb eaters don’t like the daffodil bulb, as the chemical structure is hard on the predator's tongue.
Daffodils are upon us once again. They are deep gold, brilliant yellow, white, cream, pink, green, with ruffles, cup and saucers, singles, doubles, and some come with intensely packed centers. Their scent is delicate, but is much heavier in groups. Two bouquets, of about 12 each, scent my kitchen to a just right level. I can’t take my eyes off them every time I am in the kitchen. I am grateful for every bloom.
When you pick daffodils, pick them in bud, nearly ready to bloom. Using a sharp knife, cut at a 45 degree angle, so the end of the stem does not sit flat on the vase bottom and prevent the stem from drinking. Cut as close to the stem base as possible and do not cut the leaves. The leaves should be left intact until they dry and shrivel, about mid-June.
Daffodils, ideally, should be in a container by themselves, due to their sap. If you do mix them with other flowers, their stems may be crushed, so slip a plastic straw on the stem to protect it and allow the daffodil to drink water. Commercial flower food in the water helps. For beauty, the brownish bloom husks may be pulled or snipped off.
"New beginnings,’’ "rebirth" and "hope" are the meaning of daffodils in the United States. The flower stands as the official flower for 10th wedding anniversaries. It is also the March birth flower. In Wales, the daffodil is the national flower, worn on St. David’s Day, March 1st.
Every fall my husband and I plant daffodil bulbs, for the next spring bloom time. Because we moved here only several years ago, we have a long way to go to get a field of gold in the wild garden out back. But each year we put in another 100 bulbs, at least. Eventually the field of gold will appear.
We plant all kinds of daffodils, using different naturalizing mixes, from different sources, and sometimes we grab end-of-the-year sales from box stores. We have had good plants from every source so far and have not spent a lot of money. Every year we have extra blooms from the bulbs already planted in the years before, so progress is being made, though it seems slow.
I really appreciate my houseplants, yard work and borders so much. I am ready for whatever tomorrow brings. I am strengthened by the planning, cleaning, weeding and cleanup needed to make things grow well. Everything about plants, gardening and yearly work is exciting.
The seed and bulb catalogs have such colorful pictures. I want to buy everything in them. My energy will give out before my wallet, so I must be mindful not to buy so much. I don’t want to waste anything.
Life and gardening change sometimes so slowly, we do not even realize the change has occurred. Life has changed for all of us with the pandemic, and perhaps for our yards, gardens and houseplants as well. Pandemic anxiety may be relieved with yard and garden work, as well as houseplant tending.
The uncertainty of being able to secure certain annuals for bedding plants, yard chemicals and soil mixes for the potted plants may force us to choose different plants and methods of fertilizing than we normally would have used. Many old ways of doing things in the garden and houseplant world may need to be looked at, until the sources of these things are available again.
Despite all this, plants, yards and gardens do not carry the novel coronavirus. You can get exercise and keep busy every day. If you have questions, there are many computer resources from the land grant universities, Cooperative Extension and emails to garden friends.
If you do not have to work, now is the time to really enjoy gardening.
Stay Western New York Strong and garden on.
Master gardener Fredi Stangland resides in Medina.