This time of year, if you are driving outside the city limits, you will usually come across a wide swath of daffodils planted close to the road in front of what may once have been an old home.
“A host of golden daffodils,” as Wordsworth called them. (A lovely example of assonance. Despite what you may think, that term only means the repetition of vowel sounds. Look at all those nice long o’s.) Or in Covington, drive by the gem of a garden at the corner of Dearing and Conyers streets for a daffodil fix. They may not be “tossing their heads in a sprightly dance” (more Wordsworth and personification), but they are a beautiful sight.
I have to admit to daffodil envy.
My husband, I am sure, is descended from a long line of gardeners. I know his mother was one. Small bunches of daffodils appear in the strangest places in the middle of my yard this time of year.(In the fall, those lacy red spider lilies pop up all over the yard.) I believe many of the bulbs are older than I am. One flower I have never seen anywhere else. It does not have the usual trumpet in the middle of the blossom. It just has lots of spikey yellow petals. The blossom looks like something you would see in a picture, not real life.
But these little bunches of daffodils do not fulfill my desire for that wide swath of yellow. And I am newly come to gardening.
I don’t want to plant bulbs in the middle of my yard though I haven’t dug up those that are there. I want them in the gardens at the edge of my lawn.
I have, over the years, planted dozens of bulbs every fall for at least 15 years. They come up for a few years and then disappear.
I had an occasion, about 6 or 7 years ago, to dig up an area of bulbs about 3 by 5 feet. I must have dug up at least 150 bulbs, most of them the size of the last joint on my little finger. I faithfully transplanted them to the gardens at the edge of my yard, telling myself that the bulbs would grow and that in a few years I would have that gaudy spread of yellow in my yard.
Starting at the beginning of February, I have this daily ritual of going outside and walking the edges of my flower beds and counting the number of daffodil leaves that sprout and willing them to produce flowers. I tell my husband that I am going outside to check the daffodils, and he just gives me that smile that says I know you are crazy but I will indulge you.
I get lots and lots of green leaves, full and bushy, but no flowers.
Last year was a particularly bad year. I don’t think I got more than 20 blooms. I bitterly complained to my husband that we don’t get enough sun for daffodils. Most of my garden space at the edge of the yard is sheltered with trees. Full sun only falls in the middle of my yard on what passes for grass.
I have even been known in the fall to go outside and stake out where the sun falls for the longest duration in those garden areas so that I can plant my bulbs in the most advantage place. It hasn’t helped.
Last year, with my dismal showing of yellow, my husband suggested that I buy some bulb booster and spread it among the daffodils. Gee, why hadn’t I ever thought of that?
I followed his instructions and did just that.
This year, I have more blooms than I have ever had before. Not a “host” quite yet, but I am encouraged.
I don’t know if it is that we have had so much rain this year. Or if those little baby sized bulbs have finally grown large enough to produce flowers. Or if it was the bulb booster. Or it was a combination of all three.
But I have more spots of bright yellow in my yard than I have had for a long time.
I’m buying more bulb booster.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.