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.
This beloved poem by William Wordsworth rings out in my head each spring, as daffodils in their thousands arise from the cold earth to herald the new season.
In 1802 William and his sister Dorothy were visiting Ullswater, in the English Lake District, when they came across a vast display of wild daffodils near the water. Ullswater is a beautiful ribbon-shaped lake, ringed by mountains; having spent time there as a teenager, I can only imagine the sight that greeted the siblings and inspired this poem.
This is daffodil time in Vermont
During the first week in May our daffodil display in Vermont is at its zenith, with clumps of golden flowers gracing houses and barns throughout the countryside.
So yesterday I made my annual pilgrimage to Miller Hill Farm, not far from here outside Brandon. It sits up on a hill, and their fields alongside the road are filled with daffodils, yellow and white, small and large. Every year this display grows ever more beautiful as, beneath the ground, individual clumps of bulbs continue to expand.
Daffodils are enduring and easily grown plants in our gardens.
Their only requirements are:
- Partial to full sun and normal garden soil.
- The foliage left in place until it turns yellow in early July; this allows the bulbs sufficient time to manufacture food through photosynthesis to form next year’s flowers.
I like to grow daffodils either towards the back of my perennial beds and in the rough meadow grass…places where the decaying foliage will not bother me.
Daffodils are also distasteful to rodents and deer, another factor in their favor as garden plants.
But daffodils come with a word of warning…some people find contact with their leaves can cause an itchy skin…and no part of the plant should ever be ingested by people OR pets.
Each spring my garden is awash with thousands of daffodils. But starting our Vermont garden fifteen years ago, I planted perhaps a hundred bulbs in groups of ten around the place. And in just a few years these groups had multiplied beautifully.
So now, every spring, after flowering is done, I dig up any excess bulbs with their foliage still attached and replant them anywhere I would like new clumps. This is called planting them in the green. and the technique works for any spring bulbs. Now I have daffodils in the rough meadow grass across the pond, up the banks to the edge of the woods, as well alongside the road.
And in springtime, wherever I look in the garden, I see the cheerful faces of daffodils and I feel happy.