Plants and Poetry – Daffodils

My Daffodils are blooming, enlivening the barren earth of my garden beds with exuberant yellows, creams and oranges. I love this time of year and the beginning of Spring’s blossoms. The daffodils are among the earliest of the season’s bloomers. Along with hyacinths and crocus, they provide a cheerful burst of color and promise warmer weather is on the way.

Daffodil Culture is fairly easy: Purchase the bulbs in the Autumn, plant about six inches deep, and reap the reward of blossoms in the Spring. The aftercare is a bit trickier. Long after the flowers have come and gone, the foliage remains, often becoming a bit ragged in appearance. My first instinct is to cut it off, but there lies the problem, the plant receives nourishment for next year’s blooms through the foliage. I usually let the long strap-like leaves grow until they begin to yellow and flop over. At this point I bundle them, double them down, and rubber band them into a neat clump. Some horticulturists and master gardeners say this is not a good idea, but I contain the foliage this way every year, and my daffodils seem to thrive.

William Wordsworth, an English Romantic Poet, wrote a poem about daffodils that became one of his best known works. I think he captured exactly how I feel when I look at a flowerbed or field full of daffodils. When the sun warms the earth, and she responds with new life, I want to dance with the daffodils too.

DAFFODILS

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced;
but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

5 thoughts on “Plants and Poetry – Daffodils

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