The daffodils in my garden showed their sun-filled faces yesterday. I’ve been anxiously excited about this moment for weeks. I watched the bulbs as they emerged from the frosty earth. Saw them rise towards the leaden winter skies. Watched, with great anticipation, as their flower buds edged upwards, a little closer to the sun each day. Saw the spathe turn brown and transparent like a finely veined piece of paper as the bulbs swelled with promise, drinking in the sun and rain. For a few days, the yellow petals threatened to burst from their containment, but they were waiting. For a day, for a signal, for the sun. Now, finally, they have unfurled their magnificent crowns and turned them towards the light.
I had found several daffodil bulbs in the wreck of the garden last year after we moved into our rental. They were growing haphazardly in the flowerbeds and, to my immense disappointment, most of them never bloomed last spring. After they had withered away, I dug them up and kept them in the shed, away from hungry slugs and other critters. Come October, I realised I had to plant them before the weather turned cold and I did so on the last reasonably warm autumn day. It was a bit later than I had planned, September being the ideal time to plant the bulbs. So, I decided to manage my expectations, there was a good chance that they wouldn’t flower the following spring either. I planted them in groups of two or three. My cats are very active in the garden and I’m sure Eva is part-rabbit. Not only does she like to lurk in corners and tunnels, but she also digs for fun. She’s made numerous craters in my flower beds and lawn. Her dedication to unearth my bulbs and relocate my plants is admirable, if annoying. Consequently, I had to replant and cover the bulbs on a few occasions. This only increased my apprehension about the blooming-potential of my bulbs. I found one bulb, its leaves and flower bud sage green, lying in the flower bed early in February. It was completely exposed and it looked like a small hole had been drilled into the bulb. I decided to replant it in a small yellow pot and left in on the windowsill in my kitchen. It rewarded me with a buttery yellow bloom two weeks earlier than the rest.
We are still under level five lockdown here in Ireland which means we can only travel within five kilometres of our homes. I’m bursting to explore the nearby Wicklow mountains, but for now, I must be content with our local parks and walks. The gnawing feeling that I’m missing the land’s awakening to the new season is made more bearable by the abundance of wild daffodils in our area. They seem eager to blaze into their sunny selves. Daffodils have become very significant to me. I can’t remember if I noticed all the wild daffodils that first February after we had moved to Ireland. I probably had, but since we had only been in the country for a few weeks, the whole landscape seemed new and exciting and wild. It was the second February, after our first long winter, that the daffodils made a lasting impression on me. And it was a long winter, that first full Irish winter we experienced, and a particularly cold one. The dark nights and short days made me feel more out of place than ever before. Then, almost overnight, the world erupted in a sensational display of yellow. I was delighted with the flowers growing casually next to roadsides, in fields, and popping up in long-neglected gardens. They seemed to signal hope, that those dark nights will end soon. That even though the wind’s still cold, and the rain is still icy, no winter lasts forever.
After the year we’ve had, and with the Covid-pandemic still with us, the daffodils in my garden are a welcome sight. The dark nights, the lockdowns, the mask-wearing and restrictions, will all come to an end, eventually. Until then, we’ll be patient, and we’ll savour the small joys, like the first flowers promising a new season.
Have a sunshine-filled day!