Easy daffodils

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I have always loved daffodils. They are a bomb of yellow breaking through the drear of winter gray.

This is my first year growing them myself, and I am happy to report they are super easy. I ordered a pack of 50 bulbs last fall, and–I must admit–I was lazy and let them sit in their packaging for a couple of weeks after they arrived. (The instructions said to remove the bulbs from their packaging upon arrival and to plant them ASAP.) By the time I opened the box, a few bulbs were rotten. I was worried I’d ruined the whole lot, but I planted them anyway. Come late February–daffodils!

When I was growing up, my elderly neighbors had these perennials in their yard, and they were kind enough to permit my sister and me to co-opt their yard for all sorts of kid shenanigans. Each year I looked forward to the emergence of yellow blooms. If my child self had had any idea how easy daffodils are to establish, I would have insisted on mixing in bulbs during the annual fall planting of the pansies in my parents’ yard. Finally, in my late thirties, I have them.

Cutting daffodil stems is kind of like slicing okra. They ooze a slimy sap. Apparently, if you use daffodils in arrangements with different kinds of flowers, you should pre-condition the stems first to prevent the sap from clogging the stems of the other blooms. Here’s a source that provides good information on that. Since I did not use any other flowers in this arrangement, I did not worry about this step. I did follow the advice on changing the water after the initial six hours and keeping the water level shallow.

For this arrangement, I repurposed a Seersucker Southern-style gin bottle. This Texas-made spirit makes tasty gin-and-tonics, and the bottle is cute, too.

 

 

 

Forgotten and Found: Perennials

“No, my aunt wasn’t much of a gardener,” said the visitor.

“Oh,” I said, trying not to look disappointed.

Flame-haired and cheerful, the visitor chatting on my carport was the niece of the original owner of our 1960 home. She had popped by while driving home to Virginia from vacation in Florida. I wasn’t expecting her. I was in leggings and an old t-shirt and in the middle of laundry, but when she introduced herself I was curious to glean some house history.

Her aunt, now passed, was like a second mother to her, and she spent a lot of time at the house growing up. Her dad built the backyard patio and terraces; I took a photo of her there.

“This has always been a happy home,” she said. “You will make a lot of good memories here.”

“Thank you,” I said. “We love it here.” And we do. But I am convinced she was wrong on one point. A gardener once lived here, I know it.

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Bearded irises, established by the previous homeowner, bloom each spring.

We are only the second long-term owners of the home, following brief ownerships by two others. The yard still needs a lot of work, beginning with the weedy front lawn and ending with privet, wisteria and other invasive plants in the wooded back, but its potential is a big reason why we chose this house.

The patio and terrace walls, though in need of some TLC, are lovely and dappled with shade. Purple and white irises bloom in spring. Sprawling four o’clocks grace summer evenings with hot pink blooms and attract the occasional hummingbird in the morning before their petals close in the sun. I can’t plant anything without finding shards of broken pots or some other remnant of a garden past.

I have conjured up the idea that the past homeowner and I share a vision for this yard and garden. I did not want to hear she was not a gardener. Recently, however, I received a small sign that maybe my visitor had forgotten a few things about her aunt in her younger days.

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Goldenrod foliage, which I mistook for a weed for three years.

When tall, leafy stalks shoot up on the western edge of the front yard in summer, I usually pull them up, taking them for weeds. This summer I did not (laziness), and then late September came.

What I thought were weeds turned out to be goldenrod. The vibrant yellow flowers attract honey bees, bumblebees and other pollinators. At a time of year when summer flowers have faded and the leaves have not yet changed color, goldenrod is simply beautiful.

 

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Now that I have found this established perennial, I will not forget it – at least as long as this garden is mine.