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Possumhaw: A daffodil a day


Shannon Bardwell



"Consider the daffodils, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin yet...even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." 


-- Matthew 6:28-29 paraphrase  




Down came four inches of rain and up sprang dozens upon dozens of green daffodil foliage. Daffodils being as much a harbinger of spring as the red-breasted robin scavenging across the muddy ground hoping for a hearty breakfast of earthworm. 


Valentine's Day has past coinciding with Ash Wednesday and announcing the seven weeks until Easter. The forsythia is showing signs of budding as is the ever-so-slight leafing of the hydrangea-no doubt loving the warmer temperatures and the onslaught of rainwater. 


The ash tree growing outside the bedroom window is normally my gauge for the coming of spring, but as ornery as nature can be it shows not even a hint. 


As the rains subsided the daffodils continued to bud. Looking closely there is a hint of yellow promising a flash of color soon. The daffodils are in the narcissus family. All daffodils are narcissus but not all narcissus are daffodils. Jonquils are a specific class of narcissus. Narcissus include about 25 species and thousands of varieties. The flower naturalizes very well here in the Prairie and once they bloom you can see them everywhere. They are beautiful in the sunlight but prosper in the shade as well. 


Behind the greenhouse is daffodil hill where mounds of dirt were moved during a home renovation taking a multitude of daffodil bulbs with them. Every year the daffodils bloom increasing in numbers. The colors range from soft white to a lemony color, to pale and bright yellows with a mixture of orange. Sizes are from tiny (technically a true narcissus) to quite large. Some daffodils can be seen growing deep into the woods. Who knows how they arrived there. 


Perhaps our daffodils do well here because mice and moles, squirrels and passing deer find them unpalatable and slightly toxic. Hooray, because often it seems there is virtually nothing the deer won't eat. Even the cactus, deer will eat.  


I found a few bulbs I meant to plant in the fall but the time got away from me and now it's too late. It's a good lesson for next year. Spring flowering bulbs must be planted before the cold comes. Oddly enough their roots grow when the bulbs are cold. The cold also keeps them from sprouting too soon. My Reader's Digest book of "Gardening Secrets" says bulbs need at least 12 weeks of chilling or ground temperature below 40 degrees. Warming temperatures will trigger the leaves and flowers to sprout as they are doing now.  


The bulbs could be saved until next year or maybe I could try putting them in the refrigerator. Maybe they could still be "forced," or maybe it just too late. Unfortunately, nature does not wait for our schedule.  


I can't say I'm tired of winter. It's been cozy and full of MSU girls' basketball which we have thoroughly enjoyed. Winter has its own beauty particularly the flock of cardinals feasting on our birdfeeders but all this talk of daffodils has stirred my anticipation.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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