I’ve always underrated the humble daffodil, pushing it aside for its posh springtime cousin the tulip, or even the positively exotic hyacinth. I was so misguided. There’s nothing so cheery as these bright yellow blooms in the days when spring sunshine is still a novelty. Now I love them and am in awe of how a bunch of supermarket-bought, dull green, elastic-banded stems can open into such flamboyant flowers.
Maybe I just took daffodils for granted as they seemed to grow like wild flowers in the garden of my childhood home. Clearly the previous owner had worked very hard but my trusting childhood view was that they were just natural. We had the most amazing garden. Every child should be so lucky to have the quarter of a acre we had for adventures. Near the house was the formal, grown up stuff like a patio and rose beds but if you kept walking (or galloping if you were on your imaginary pony) things got much more interesting.
There was a very small hill half way down the garden, always covered in a huge number of daffodils in early spring. Brought up with a healthy imagination for buried treasure and smugglers’ caves, this mound was always the subject of much speculation. What could possibly lie beneath? At the very least it might have been an old air raid shelter. Eventually curiosity got the better of my dad and he borrowed a metal detector to find out more. My brother and I looked on, breath held and hearts beating fast. The machine beeped! And then beeped several times more. Out came the spade and an exploratory hole was dug between the daffodils. (This operation must have been carried out my mum wasn’t looking as she had a passion for the daffs and always filled the house with beautiful arrangements). And there it was, a pile of old metal guttering, several down pipes and two disappointed children. I expect my dad was disappointed too but probably relieved that he didn’t have two over-excited children squealing for daddy to make an old shelter into a den for them. The mystery mound must have been a heap of builders’ rubbish that was too much trouble to take away. My family moved away from that house over 25 years ago, so I wonder if the garden is still the same. I hope other children have enjoyed wondering about buried treasure.
This year the daffodils seem more welcome than ever. I’ve bought a few bunches in the last couple of weeks and even enjoyed admiring banks of them in nearby Victoria Park. (How lucky can a girl get, living so close to the Royal Crescent in Bath?) I got carried away with the quantity I bought yesterday. So much so that I had enough tightly budded booms to set aside for a second vase. Flowers for the bedroom, the ultimate luxury! I may be imagining things but I think they actually make a small popping sound as they unfurl. I heard the unfamiliar sound twice in the night and sure enough two of the buds were starting to open when I woke up this morning. Even if I have imagined it, I love the idea that flowers make a sound with the effort of opening.