Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's Blooming Inside: Drifts of Snowy Daffodils

Chronica Domus
Photo: Chronica Domus


I have written about my favorite flower, the humble daffodil, extensively in the past and cannot help but rejoice in its understated yet elegant beauty each spring.  I am not talking about the overly-hybridized modern daffodil, mind you.  No, not at all!  I am, in fact, referring to those lesser-known, older varieties which I champion whenever opportunity arises.

Chronica Domus
When in bloom narcissus Thalia is like a spring snow drift
Photo: Chronica Domus


There has been a succession of daffodils blooming in the garden since late December.  As each variety fades, another awaits patiently in the wings to take center stage. Presently, my favorite of the snowy-whites, narcissus Thalia, is putting on a blinding display.

Thalia is a heritage daffodil, having been registered in Holland in 1916, and thus an appropriate addition to the garden of our house which was built in 1925. Her nodding star-shaped blooms are simply breathtaking in their elegance.  Her color is a true white, not cream or ivory. She is as pure (white) as the driven snow.  I consider Thalia to be inherently demure within the world of flowers.  In fact, if her name were not Thalia, I would have named her Audrey, as in Hepburn.

Chronica Domus
Pure as the driven snow
Audrey Hepburn in 'The Nun's Story'

Thalia's exquisite scent is equally delicate and does not overwhelm the olfactory sense.  Do please give consideration to these older strains of daffodil when planting your own spring garden for I just know that you too will be rewarded tenfold for your efforts. Just to prove it, you'll be delighted to learn that Thalia possesses a generous spirit. She happily obliges in spreading her snowy-white wings, naturalizing to great effect within a few short years.

I can think of no more pleasurable experience than cultivating one's own flowers and reveling in the satisfying and humbling act of gathering a small handful to bring indoors.  Just look how Thalia enlivens a corner of the drawing room.

Chronica Domus
A pretty posy of narcissus Thalia sits atop a table in the drawing room
Photo: Chronica Domus


Chronica Domus
The flowering branches I purchased a few weeks ago for our dinner party are still going strong and impart an air of spring to the dining room
Photo: Chronica Domus


And, although I did not grow the mixed yellow bunches of daffodils seen in the photograph below, gathered in English earthenware milk jugs and resting on the kitchen counter, I was fortunate to have captured their ephemeral beauty saturated in early morning light, the golden hour.  The blooms were a much appreciated gift from my thoughtful husband who knows me too well.  I'm simply mad for daffs!

Photo: Chronica Domus
Golden daffodils fittingly bathed in golden morning light
Photo: Chronica Domus


Tell me, do you grow your own daffodils or buy them by the armload at this most glorious time of year?


The Daffodils

William Wordsworth 
1770 - 1850

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 the 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.


29 comments:

  1. Daffodil bulbs that we purchased 20 years ago are still blooming every spring. They bring back memories of the parents' weekend we spent at our daughter's university and the tour we took of the university's arboretum (where we purchased the bulbs). The blooms are petite but so lovely.

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    1. Hello slf,

      How wonderful to have a lasting memory of your visits to your daughter's university through the annual blooming of your long-ago purchased daffodil bulbs.

      I was delighted to discover, that first spring after purchasing our house, that the previous owner had planted a scattering of Paperwhite narcissus. Most have now disappeared but I did spot one blooming beneath the pear tree just last week which gladdened my heart. I believe the drought we've endured these past few years finished most of them off sadly.

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  2. Hello CD, As usual, your flowers are perfection in themselves, as well as among the beautiful objects in your home. I personally have never been much for bringing flowers into the house, which perhaps is a shame, because I have so many vases and potential receptacles for them (although I am sure little talent for arranging them, which you obviously have in abundance). I have not been out walking much lately because of the rain, but the other day I saw some beautiful azaleas here, all red but one branch pink-and-white mottled.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim,

      Thank you for your effusive praise of my flower arrangements and the perceived talent that is required to assemble them. If I'm honest, the beautiful blooms arrange themselves and talent has little to do with things. An aesthetically pleasing and suitable receptacle always helps, of course.

      I encourage you to try it for yourself as I know how much you admire nature. Bringing a little home with you is surely a good thing.

      I do hope you took a photograph of the mottled azalea branch. I'm sure it was quite something to behold.

      Delete
  3. Our daffs sit on the shady side of the house and are the last to bloom in all of Washington I believe. They are still holding out on us but I can't wait! So I've been purchasing all of our spring flowers for inside the house (from the local Trader Joes who has a surprisingly marvelous selection!)

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    1. Hello AD,

      I think you are probably the luckiest gardener in all of Washington, getting to enjoy your daffodils later than the rest thereby extending the season.

      Your comment has jogged my memory and reminded me that I've yet to see the little clump of daffodils in my own garden that I planted in a shady spot. I suppose I can look forward to their blooming soon.

      I need to check out Trader Joes and their flower selection, thank you.

      Delete
  4. Apologies to columnist as I inadvertently deleted his comment which I am publishing below:

    columnist has left a new comment on your post "What's Blooming Inside: Drifts of Snowy Daffodils":

    Such Spring beauties, much missed in this neck of the woods, although we have other sakuru- like blossom on the trees to bring joy, and they are just appearing, shocked into life by the mid/high 30c temperatures. Do your daffs smell? As in not a good way? That rather put me off having them in any abundance when we lived in Edinburgh for a short while. But here a similar *disagreeable* occurs with cut orchids, remedied by changing the water.

    We see deeper into your house; quite lovely. A trade off for reinstatement of my earlier posts?!

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    1. Hello columnist,

      We too are enjoying blossom from the fruit trees in our garden presently, and the white wisteria is also in full bloom (and smells sensational!).

      The great thing about narcissus Thalia is that it has the faintest aroma, not at all overpowering, unlike my other favorite narcissus that I enjoy growing, narcissus Avalanche. I am banned from bringing it into the house for it positively reeks to high heaven (according to my dear husband). Please don't tell him, however, that I do occasionally sneak a few stalks into the house just to admire their beauty. I can get away with it until they are fully blooming then, I'm afraid, onto the compost heap they go!

      Aha, is that what it takes to reinstate your earlier posts?

      Delete
  5. I buy them. Fall was crazy and I did not have time to plant any bulbs at the new house. They are such a cheerful flower: perfect for this time of year.

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    1. Hello Jen Lawrence,

      Daffodils are indeed bearers of cheer. I suppose you'll have the chance to plot and plan your spring garden now that you've settled into your new place, which I'm sure is an exciting prospect.

      I just found some flower bulbs that I failed to plant late last year due to all of the rain that had turned my garden into mud. I just popped them into the soil last week as a last ditch attempt at saving them. We shall see what materializes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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  6. I love daffodils too, although I've found they don't much like the dry air and heat spikes that accompany the Santa Ana winds that blew through here last week. I had several good clumps of a noID variety going early last week but they're withered now. Only a few 'White Lion' remain.

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    1. Hello Kris Peterson,

      I wholeheartedly recommend narcissus Avalanche for it will surely thrive in your horticultural zone, and be able to withstand the winds. It does rather well for me (we are in a windy area most of the year, and our heat arrives in late Spring), and always blooms before the other varieties of daffodil make an appearance.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment here today.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Why, thank you, Thshrubqueen. My garden seems to turn white at this glorious time of year what with these daffodils, the fruit tree blossoms, and the white wisteria at their peak.

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  8. Thalia looks even more splendid in a vase funny enough. But I am lucky that I live near the park and there are so many sprouting at the moment. This week is splendid with the daffodils and cherry blossoms in bloom. You need to visit in spring CD

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    1. Hello Naomi,

      Ah, you are making me yearn for a visit with your park description. I am, alas, restricted in my travel times due to school schedules and all that come with it. I greatly enjoyed London at this time of year when I lived there. Please, please do take a few pictures of the park for your blog and share with us.

      Delete
  9. Hello,
    Your daffodils are gorgeous whether grown or purchased. I think their yellow cheerfulness is just the thing after all the winter gloom. ('Cheerfulness' is my favourite, I love the soapy fragrance).I have noticed a lack of Thalia around here so aim to rectify that.

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    1. Hello AlisonC,

      Thank you. I think you've captured narcissus Cheerfulness' fragrance perfectly when you describe it as "soapy". I'm embarrassed to admit it (well, almost!) that I just found three bags of Cheerfulness and got them in the ground (late) just last week. I've been unable to pop them in the soil due to the deluge of rain we've endured since late last year. It has finally subsided and the gardening schedule has once again commenced.

      Delete
  10. I much prefer white daffodila and am waiting for my own Thalia to open - I have spied some buds! I didn't realise how old a variety they were so thanks for telling me that and for joining us today

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    1. Hello ramblinginthegarden,

      So pleased I've drawn attention to the age of this demure creature. They do say "oldie but goodie" for a reason.

      Enjoy your Thalia when they make their glorious appearance, which by the sounds of it, is just around the corner for you.

      Delete
  11. Where do you buy your Thalia bulbs? They are putting on an impressive show.
    Karen





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    1. Hello Karen,

      Most of my Thalia were purchased at the wonderful Half Moon Bay nursery which stock an incredible selection in the autumn. I'm like a kid in a candy shop as I pop the bulbs into brown paper bags with anticipation for what lay ahead in the spring.

      I've also purchased them through Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs who have an on-line presence and a beautiful catalog too which can be mailed to your house. And, finally, Van Engelen have proved to be a good source but anything I've purchased from them requires chilling so plan ahead.

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  12. My delighted mother reported in late February how her daffodils were already above ground in early arriving Spring-like North Carolina weather.

    Now my Dear CD, Narcissus GSL, the noted Great Lake Poet, had his idiom sensor, ever on high alert with my Estella's constant butchery, drawn to your curious usage of 'driven snow', which to my recollection, had the huddled masses brought up on 'undriven snow' being the unsullied ideal. Online research now reveals Kenton schoolgirls are correct and faithful to Shakespeare's 'Winter's Tale' original usage while this American schoolboy must have been in one of his perpetual "woo the fair maiden" reveries when this subject matter was introduced many moons ago.



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    1. Hello GSL,

      Yes, we Kentish schoolgirls were taught well by the fondly remembered Miss Bottle, our English Language nad English Literature teacher.

      I'm sure your mother will be enjoying many more weeks of blooming lovely daffs as compared to us in the Bay Area. It started raining last evening, heavily, so most of mine have keeled over.

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  13. Thalia is my favorite, too. Especially pretty when it peeks out of a few inches of snow.

    Best, Mary Jane

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    1. Hello Mary Jane,

      It does not snow in our area but I can only imagine how thrilling it would be to see clumps of Thalia poking through the snow. A harbinger of spring, indeed!

      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. I do hope you come back again.

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  14. Replies
    1. Why, thank you Eliza Waters, and welcome! I do hope you come back and visit CD again, and often.

      Delete

Please do leave a comment as I enjoy the dialogue with my readership, thank you.

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