Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Where are my daffodils?

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.

- "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth

It was from that Wordsworth poem that, as a child, I learned my romantic view of daffodils. They were the essence of poetry, the essence of spring, beauty itself. What is learned as a child stays with us, even if it sometimes gets buried among the later detritus of our psyches. And so it is that I have retained my love of that schmaltzy - by today's standards - poem, as well my love of daffodils, surely one of Mother Nature's schmaltziest flowers.

When I attended the Houston Bulb and Plant Mart last year, I was enthralled by all the pictures of beautiful daffodils in the bulb house. The variety of bulbs was astounding and, supposedly, they would all grow in our climate.

Now, my record with daffodils in this climate is less than stellar. Occasionally, I have managed to coax a few blooms from them in their first winter or spring, but almost never do they return the following year. Since planting bulbs is a painful chore for me, I'm not really interested in going to all that effort for a plant that is going to be an annual.

And yet... I see with my "inward eye" the dance of those ten thousand golden daffodils upon the hill...and my heart melts. Maybe I could try just one more time. Just a few bulbs.

And so, in the end, I did buy a few bulbs. I chose 'Ice Follies.' It could have been any one of several others that were recommended to me, but time was growing short and I needed to choose. 'Ice Follies' was close at hand.

I brought my small bag of bulbs home and planted them around the birdbath in the front yard. I dreamed of them making a cheery late winter display for passersby. Then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, the greenery came up, but no buds or blooms. Things didn't look promising. No dancing ten thousand daffodfils for me. Not even ten.

And so it was with some surprise that when I filled the birdbath a few days ago I noticed there seemed to be some suspicious swellings on the tips of some of my daffodil greenery. I looked closer. Buds? Buds!

So maybe 'Ice Follies' just blooms a little later than I thought. Okay, it's not exactly a "crowd of golden daffodils" but it's a start. Those swelling buds have given me hope. That's all we romantics need to fuel our dreams.

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