About 25 years ago we planted daffodil bulbs on the south side of our house where they would bloom the earliest. We enjoyed the bright yellow blooms in April for years. But 10 years ago, we decided to have a professional landscaper come in to install a patio and redo the front and side yard plantings. We opted to have fewer flowers and more blooming shrubs planted to provide more privacy between the patio and the road that runs in front of the house.
I spent the better part of a day digging up flower bulbs. I didn’t want to just have the landscapers crush the bulbs as they did their work. That seemed an unfitting repayment for the delight that they had provided each spring. The concern that I had was it was the heart of summer and the time for planting bulbs is late fall. I replanted them anyway at the edge of the old garden up against the encroaching willow brush and ash trees.
Two things happened the following spring. The transplanted daffodils did indeed spring up against the tree line. One tends to think of flowers as delicate, when indeed they are tenacious. Especially early bloomers like daffodils. They begin to sprout most often as soon as the snow recedes, only to need to wait patiently due to late season snows and last stretches of freezing temperatures. They are undeterred. They are also prolific. Somehow clusters of daffodils are now scattered across the whole edge of the yard and a few clusters are now even pushing back into the advancing willow brush.
And secondly, despite my digging and the digging of the landscapers, some daffodils still sprang up along the south side of the house. I’m not sure how those bulbs escaped my garden spade and the landscaper’s heavy-duty equipment. But there they were, blooming amidst all of the hardy perennial flowering shrubs, all still tight-budded and dormant. Although the concern from the landscaper was that they wouldn’t really go well with his design, they made our hearts happy and they added a nice splash of color to eyes that were weary of winter white and the browns of March and early April. You have to appreciate their beauty and their tenacity.
There is something less domestic about these survivors against the odds. I chuckle that we have the only “wild” daffodils in the neighborhood. They are an unplanned, but beautiful legacy for whomever makes their home here after we have gone. Perhaps they too, when they see the yellow blooms in their Aprils, will, like me, go to the bookshelf and turn a page to Wordsworth’s poem:
Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth
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.