Before I started gardening, I thought I was fulfilled.
However, my Experiments with Plants directly and indirectly filled voids that I hadn't even recognised, lifting my happiness to a higher level.
This is a blog about a garden near London, England, and how it is changing my approach to life.
Monday, 21 March 2011
Daffodils (21 MAR 2011)
Is it possible to learn to love ? ... a plant that you don't find particularly attractive. My relationship with daffodils is certainly not a case of love at first sight and I'm not the only one, there are like-minded people out there, who are against the cultivars at least. Personally, I would prefer if they had existed longer in their erect bud state, the young grey-green leaves, almost succulent, and the semi-transparent sepals shrouding the compressed, yellow blooms within.
It’s difficult to put my finger on the exact features which displease, but I suspect it’s mainly the trumpet. It just seems to me as if a daffodil is having a big sneeze, especially when the petals are reflexed backwards and the trumpet is elongated and flared at the end, but then my nick-name is BigNose (kindly bestowed by Mr.F) and they do say that it’s human nature to deplore faults in others especially if you share them. “None of us can stand other people having the same faults as ourselves.” - Oscar Wilde
Is it wrong to look at daffodils, then block them out in my mind’s eye and visualise the tulips soon to arrive ?
Surely, tulips are poised compared to ungainly daffodils, keeling over each other soon after they appear. The Greek myth of Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection as he looked down into a pool of water, adds an element of fantasy for a short while, until the flower heads are faced flat on the ground and the leaves turn limp and slimy. I sought to understand why Welsh people celebrate with daffodils on St.Davids Day 1st March, hoping I could rejoice with them in a similar way. It didn't help though, because in the Welsh language the daffodil is called Peter’s Leek (even though it’s toxic), so in modern times they wear a daffodil in their button-hole as a less pungent-scented alternative to their true national emblem.
I was under the impression that the Dutch were to blame for breeding tall, gawdy hybrids in different colours with flouncy or muted trumpets, depending on their fancy, but according to a U.S. daffodil data-base, a number of countries are at it. I do feel a twinge of guilt when I remember how I thoughtlessly tossed a bag of bulbs in the supermarket trolley just because they were cheap. I once read Carol@FlowerHillFarm’s story where she described her journey as she learnt to “manage her land”. At the time, I didn’t feel those words applied to me with my little back garden in surbubia, but now more people are writing about natives such as DonnaBella@GardensEyeView and their message is beginning to affect me.
My only consolation is that the small perfectly-proportioned daffodils in a pot are closer to their wild cousins. They have lasted longer than the large daffodils and they are standing straight.
Wild daffodils (narcissus pseudonarcissus), native in Western Europe, are less than 35mm tall with yellow, cylindrical trumpets and paler yellow petals. They are not in danger yet, but could be in the future, due to hybridisation with garden varieties.
Dr Andy Tasker (from www.ihatedaffodils. org.uk) : " Some misguided individuals apparently believe it’s a good idea to plant all sorts of daffodil bulbs in places such as ancient woodlands, meadows and country lanes. Well, they are wrong. They don’t look nice. It’s like putting lipstick on the Mona Lisa. Apart from the indigenous species, daffodils should be in only three places – in pots, in your garden and in Holland. "
"The daffodil is native to western Europe, and is found in the area bounded by Portugal in the west, Germany in the east, and England and Wales to the north. It is not clear whether the species is truly native to Britain, or was introduced long ago and has become naturalised. "
" The Latin name for daffodil is thought to have been inspired by Narcissus, who was a figure in Greek mythology said to have fallen in love with his reflection in a pool of water. The nodding head of the daffodil is said to represent Narcissus bending down and gazing at his reflection."
" And so today each year on St. David's Day the leek is worn in the cap badges of every soldier in every Welsh regiment. Outside the army however, many other Welsh folk have substituted the daffodil for the leek, perhaps because it looks more attractive and certainly smells a lot better. Interesting to note however, that one of the many Welsh names for a daffodil is Cenhinen Bedr, or Peter's leek."