Native Son: March 17, 2022
The window right by my desk is wide open to the metal-roofed back porch. I sit here in the dim glow, trying to figure out what to write … but the sound of the rain on the roof captivates me, ensnares me. This natural music of erratic rhythms, oddly timed deep percussions of thunder, bold splatters during the deluge, and tricky little trickles off the porch, each with its own particular job to do until things dry out. I think about the inconceivable journey this water has taken … through time and space and having its physical state completely transformed ….
“Evaporates up … comes down as rain. Seems pretty conceivable to me,” you say?
Well, maybe I do dabble in some rather luxurious pondering these days … I reckon it’s quiet, entertaining, and hey, the price is right.
A Few Things I Learned From Daffodils
All daffodils are narcissus, but not all narcissus are daffodils. The same can be said about jonquils. And, if you think about long enough, not all narcissus are called Narcissus. Technically, there are about 50 species and 13 different horticultural divisions of Narcissus. Continuing with the lucky number concept, there are more than 13,000 cultivars of Narcissus, but only about 500 in commercial production. Choose wisely ….
Most of us know the story of the Greek god Narcissus, and how he wasted away staring at his own reflection … or drowned, depending upon which version you read. Personally, I think the most interesting thing about this story is that his mother’s name was Liriope. I heard she had an uncle named Lon Mo-Aire.
Daffodils are best planted point side up. The good news is that if you drop one into a hole and it lands point down, you’re still okay. Thanks to geotropism (a plant’s response to gravity), the emerging plant will hang a u-turn and grow upward. Nature finds a way.
Daffodils need 12 to 16 weeks of cold treatment (temperatures colder than 40F) to induce floral development. Bulbs sold in stores have usually been kept in a refrigerated warehouse to ensure they have been properly chilled. In the South, varieties that need less chilling naturalize better because of our usually mild winters.
Narcissus are mildly toxic, so don’t eat them. If you are now having a screaming conniption at the mere thought of a toxic plant in your garden, please relax. Your cell phone is stupendously toxic … same advice … don’t eat it.
Wildlife usually doesn’t snack on daffodils. When the deer come around to munch on everything you’ve planted, they will usually leave the daffodils untouched. I said “usually”. On the other hand, if not for the separation of seasons, grasshoppers would likely mow them right down. Hmmm … might be worth forcing a few bulbs in August just to find out.
Narcissus are native from the Mediterranean region eastward for 2000 miles. There is simply no such thing as a native Texas daffodil, but there is a daffodil named ‘Texas.’ And Round Rock is the “Official Daffodil Capital of Texas.” Glouchester, Virginia, proudly wears the crown of “Daffodil Capital of America.” Those in the know raise an eyebrow … isn’t Glouchester where the famous Brent & Becky Heath reside? That would be a big yes.
“Daffodelirium” can overtake anyone, young or old, rich or poor. I have suffered from it myself. Don’t tell anyone, but I think Neil Sperry may get it now and again as well. The only cure is to lay on the ground, nose up, and wait … with any luck, you can catch a passing “armadaffadillo,” flip it over, and give it a tummy rub. It doesn’t really cure anything, but it’ll get the neighbors talking.
Daffodils by the truckload! Longview Arboretum, Dallas Arboretum, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Weston Gardens! Get out there and check it out!
Peace & Love! Come see me THIS SUNDAY, March 20, at Clark Gardens in Mineral Wells. We’ll chat … we’ll laugh … we’ll share stories! My talk is at 2pm … see you there!
Just so you know … the Longview Arboretum & Nature Center is OPEN! Hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday through Saturday; Sunday 12 noon-5pm. Come out and see us! And bring your own brand of Zen! 903-212-2181 Longviewarboretum.org.
I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town too small. Just send me an e-mail at email@example.com and we’ll work something out.