In praise of the daffodil

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.



Filed under Growing, Musing

10 responses to “In praise of the daffodil

  1. Marie Odell

    I enjoyed hearing about your childhood garden very much.As a child we only had an allotment and because of that and my lovely mum, my love of gardening began.I too have been buying daffodills when out for my weekly shop I put them in a old earthenware jar and when I look at them it makes me so happy.They are here for such a short time so I make the most of it.

  2. What a lovely posting! I know excactly what you mean. Never mind expensive bouquets, a £1 bunch of lovely daffs always brings a smile to my face. I`ve bought myself a wee bunch every week since they`ve been in the shops and they`ve become a permanant feature on my kitchen window. Yesterday my auntie let me pick a huge bunch from her garden and I`ve popped them into a lovely vintage glass vase along with some pussy willow twigs. I also grew up with a large garden to play in and have wondered about new children playing there. I`d love to have a wee nosey to see how it`s changed.

  3. Rosie

    I love daffs – they are such an inexpensive way to brighten a room. As we drove back from Batlas couple of weeks ago we were admiring the banks of daffodils beside the road and feeling very glad that someone thought it was worth the time to plant them all.

  4. Rosie

    I love daffs – they are such an inexpensive way to brighten a room. As we drove back from Bath a couple of weeks ago we were admiring the banks of daffodils beside the road and feeling very glad that someone thought it was worth the time to plant them all.

  5. When I had an allotment I used to bring home bunches of daffodils with their petals just bursting through their sheaths. In my unheated bedroom they took a week to open fully and lasted ages. Now I have a house with a garden – and no allotment – the daffodils are left to flower outside. This year though, less flowers than normal, even in areas where the daffodils haven’t been there long. Noticed less daffodils in flower in Victoria Park (NE London) on my bike ride this morning. London had one short spell of really cold weather but not enough to affect blooming surely? Or could it be lack of moisture in my quick draining soil? Can’t have flowers indoors anyway as have rescue kittens instead of my usual rescue adult cats and they send vases flying!

  6. What wonderful memories. I love the Daffs too as they remind me of the Summer and all the wonderful heat and colour on the horizon. I have planted a few in my garden and some crocus, as they begin to show their heads I know it’s getting warmer. I know what you mean about those cheep daffs from the S.M. Although I have a few in the garden that’s where they stay and I have a few bunches in the house they are very bright reminder of the coming Summer ;0)

  7. Jen

    Those daffodils look beautiful! I live in Ontario, Canada and due to unseasonably warm temperatures lately, the crocuses and tulips are coming up here already 🙂 I love the vase the daffodils are in (the green one with the birds on the side) – do you know who makes it? I’d like to try to track one down even though I’m sure it’s vintage 🙂
    Jen 🙂

    • Hi Jen, the green vase is one of my favourite possessions. I’m afraid it is vintage from the 1930s. My mum and I fell in love with it in a little antique shop in Clevedon, near Bristol. My mum bought it for me and kept it hidden until Christmas! Its in amazing condition, I think someone must have really treasured it as I do now. It even still has the removable glass ‘frog’ in the top with holes to arrange individual flowers.

  8. Jen

    Hi Jenny, I can completely understand why you love the vase – it is amazing! I’ll have to keep my eye out for a similar one 🙂 Nice that your Mum bought it for you for Christmas – makes it even more special! I’m really enjoying your blog – I found it through Mollie Makes. I’ve even made some of the same things you have – like the Alicia Paulson ornaments. I think we are definitely “kindred spirits” 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your blog posts. I especially liked your one about your vintage sewing class – sounded amazing! The cottage with the hollyhocks will be wonderful when completed 🙂 Jen

    • Hi Jen, thank you do much for your kind comments! I hope I’ll get around to the hollyhock picture one day. That embroidery class really got me into it again. I’ve just finished a little something for Easter, so stay posted! Jenny x

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