Golden daffodils – dancing in the breeze

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.

Poem by William Wordsworth

We are often advised to live in the present moment, which is all well and good, as we only live this moment once and we need to enjoy it for all its worth, but gardeners know we also have to live – and think and plan – a season or two ahead of this moment. That is the way of the garden. Appreciating the beauty of today, but also thinking ahead to our future gardens. Daffodils are the perfect example of this.

The daffodils shown above are blooming in my melodious garden today, a sunny though chilly mid-March day. We hopefully had our last freeze of the season overnight here in zone 8a, North Texas. Now is the time to take stock of our own gardens and jot down notes. If we already have daffodils, which clumps need divided? What areas of the garden would benefit from a cluster of daffodils, fluttering and dancing in the breeze? We can stroll our neighborhoods to see what other gardeners have blooming now. Or visit a botanical garden or arboretum. Always be sure to take photographs of daffodils you like and would love to have in your own garden next year.

There are several different types of daffodils, so it is best to research and see which ones you are drawn to. (This is where visiting a botanical garden pays off! You can see first hand what different varieties look like and how they perform in your area.) Daffodil colors range from white to yellow to some with peach and orange-ish accents. Colors are always a personal preference. As you can probably tell from the photographs from my own garden, I am drawn to the white and yellow varieties.

After the daffodil flowers have faded, the greens will die down, later to be trimmed off and forgotten about through summer and fall. In late summer or early fall, the gardener can pull out their notes and photographs, as that is the time to plan the spring garden and purchase daffodil bulbs for blooms the following year. In this area, spring blooming bulbs, such as daffodils, can be planted between Thanksgiving and the new year. I generally plan to do this chore on a sunny day when the leaves have fallen from the oak trees, when the heat of summer is just a memory, but the cold of winter hasn’t yet touched my soul. Just such days are perfect for digging in some new bulbs and thinking ahead to spring-time blooms.

Daffodils need to be planted in an area that has well draining soil, as the bulbs will rot if planted where water stands during prolonged wet periods. Daffodils are otherwise not fussy about growing conditions or soil pH. It is important to let the foliage die back naturally, as this stores the bulb’s energy for the following year.

Always stop and smell the flowers and enjoy today to its best! But also keep an eye ahead and plan out those gardens of tomorrow. As William Kent said, “Garden as if you will live forever.”

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