Garden Diary - April 2015

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Daffodil Woods
Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A phone call this morning, from Jerry. "I thought Derek and I would come pick you up and bring you here to see the daffodils." he said. What good friends I have. With my right wrist pined, in a brace, and often very twinge-y I'm still hesitant to drive. And here's someone willing to make not one but two round trips to bring me to his garden, then home again. What simplifies the situation is that Pat, my WWOOFer is here today. She, also, is interested in the daffodils. She'll drive me there this afternoon. Something to look forward to!

A woods full of daffodils.

It had its beginning many, many years ago. Before, in fact, the house was ever built. Jerry bought one of those "special offers" from a bulb company whose name is lost in the mists of time. It was for a bushel of mixed daffodils. I imagine / assume there were trumpet daffodils, large cup, small cup, some doubles, yellow and white and bicolor. They were planted in a patch of open woodland near where the house would be. But then Jerry did something that goes against the standard advice when growing daffodils. He never dead-headed.

The conventional advice is to remove the fading flowers so nutrition goes into the bulb rather than seed production. However seeds offer genetic recombination, new possibilities, unlike the cloning that means offset bulbs are identical to the original one.

Bees have been flying from flower to flower, year after year. A well-pollinated daffodil may have up to 25 fertile seeds in a pod. And it will take 5 years, from seed to flowering size daffodil bulb. "Look where you walk," warned Jerry, "so you don't step on the leaves of the new bulbs that haven't yet reached flowering size."

Having started with an assortment, by now the results are even more scrambled.

A charming clump of white daffodils with a small yellow cup.

Another group, also with white petals but a large yellow cup rimmed with orange.

How about this beauty, white petals and a large ruffled cup the color of icy lemon sorbet.

Or this white on white, with the veriest hint, just a thread
of green edging the frilly cup with a chartreuse green throat.

What, you say daffodils are yellow? Of course they are. Here you go, yellow on yellow. Nice full, overlapping petals and a small cup as rich as the yolk of an egg from a free-range hen.

Jerry and Pat, and an afternoon in a woods full of daffodils. Lovely.

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