The Daffodil – Spring has Sprung

Daffodils in a rustic container

Daffodils in a rustic container (Photo b Michael Lant - Click on Image to Enlarge)

If you were to visit my home today you would find daffodils blooming in nearly every room. When I see them each morning I smile as they remind me of simpler times when as a child, in early spring I checked daily on the green spikes that grew out of the dark rich earth in my mother’s gardens, anticipating the day when there would be a mass of blooming flowers with tulips in red, pink and white alongside my favourite brilliant yellow daffodils. Spring had finally arrived when these happy flowers bloomed.

Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. It is the birth flower of March, the same month as the spring equinox. The daffodil is one of the national flowers of Wales because they always bloom on the first day of March, the feast day for their patron saint St David. The daffodil also holds significance in nearby Isles of Scilly, where each year the local Environmental Trust pays to Prince Charles, their annual dues of one daffodil for rent on these unoccupied lands. Another significant spring event involving daffodils occurs from the end of March through April, when the Canadian Cancer Society holds its annual Daffodil Days fundraising drive. The daffodil is recognized by the CCS as the floral icon representing strength, courage and a symbol of life.

Narcissus is the botanical name for the daffodil. One reference places the origin of this name with Greek mythology where it was believed the narcissus plant originated from the vain youth, Narcissus. He died after becoming so obsessed with his reflection in a pool he could not leave. The gods turned his remains into the Narcissus flower. This is also the origin of the word “narcissism” which means excessive self love. The word narcissus is also said to have originated from the ancient Greek word Narke – the root word for narcotic – meaning deep sleep, stupor or numbness. The narcissus or daffodil carries toxins called narcitine, that can cause sickness and even death to humans and animals that eat the flower or bulb. Most of the poison is carried in the bulb, which may explain why Roman soldiers would eat them if they fell to fatality, so they could die with mercy.

A single daffodil represents bad luck, so always present these cheerful flowers in a bouquet. Cut daffodils have a relatively short vase life of 4 to 5 days. They will spring from bud form to full bloom in as little as a few hours. An arrangement of daffodil bulbs will last at least a week if you keep the soil moist and they are placed in a bright room.

Mini daffodil bulbs and curly willow in distressed ceramic container

Mini daffodil bulbs and curly willow in distressed ceramic container (Photo by Michael Lant - Click on image to enlarge)

Recipe and Instructions for Daffodil Topiary in Rustic Box (image at top of page):

The combination of all the elements makes this arrangement close to perfection in my eyes. It’s one of my favourites.

Ingredients

  • 4” square rustic wooden box or container
  • Floral foam
  • Sheet moss
  • 2 – 3 blades of Bear grass
  • 18 Daffodils – partially open

Recipe

  1. Line the box or container with heavy plastic if it is not watertight. Soak the floral foam and trim so it fits inside the box, about half an inch below the lip of the container.
  2. Hold the longest straightest stem vertically in the palm of your left hand if you’re right handed or your right hand if you’re left handed. Position a second stem to the left of that stem at a slight angle. Position a third stem next to the stem. Turn the group of stems counter clockwise. Continue to position stems and turn counter clockwise until all stems are used. You should have a nice domed shape. Wrap a strip of floral tape securely just under the flower heads.
  3. Trim the stems to the same length and wrap another strip of tape close to the bottom of the bunch. Gently push the stems into the centre of the soaked floral foam about 3”.
  4. Push the thick end of the bear grass into the foam and gently encircle the trunk, covering the exposed floral tape as you go. Tuck the pointed end of the grass into through the stems or back down into the foam.
  5. Complete the look with a piece of sheet moss that has been soaked. Squeeze out the excess moisture and tuck around the topiary base covering the foam.
  6. As the daffodil blooms open, they will naturally fit into each other, creating a full canopy. Add water to the foam every couple of days. Once the daffodils have fully bloomed, stop adding water and let the topiary dry. If you’re fortunate, this arrangement will dry nicely and last for a few weeks.
  7. Hold the longest straightest stem vertically in the palm of your left hand if you’re right handed or your right hand if you’re left handed. Position a second stem to the left of that stem at a slight angle. Position a third stem next to the stem. Turn the group of stems counter clockwise. Continue to position stems and turn counter clockwise until all stems are used. You should have a nice domed shape. Wrap a strip of floral tape securely just under the flower heads.
  8. Trim the stems to the same length and wrap another strip of tape close to the bottom of the bunch. Gently push the stems into the centre of the soaked floral foam about 3”.

Footnote

Clearly I haven’t been keeping up with my plans for delivering a new floral arrangement each week for 52 consecutive weeks. Life has a way of throwing the best laid plans off the projected path. That said, I have every intention to continue to share with you a fresh blog whenever I can. You may not hear from me for a few weeks. And then I might surprise you with a few blogs close to each other. I hope you will continue to travel with me – even if in a disjointed fashion – as I continue to offer my version of joy and beauty through flowers.

Weekly Quote: This week I share with you a famous poem about the daffodil by William Wordsworth, titled none other than “Daffodil”

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 leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but 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.

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8 Comments

  1. Cathleen
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Was just thinking about you and missing your posts…so glad to get this one! Looks like spring has finally made it–great ways to bring it inside. Look forward to your next post whenever you can…

    • Liz Lant
      Posted April 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Cathleen, glad to at last have successfully delivered this blog. Do give this recipe an attempt. It’s lovely and would look smashing on the Easter dining table in a series. I’m sure you’ve seen that I love repetition on a theme and this arrangement works beautifully.

  2. Ann Corrigan
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    What a sunny treat! Could there be a more sure sign of Spring? Thanks for these blogs…I’m so happy to recieve them no matter when….happy gardening to you and all your readers…Ann

    • Liz Lant
      Posted April 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      As always Ann, you are most gracious. You are so right, daffodils are the sure sign of spring, along with the Robin, back from their long journey north and in search of fat juicy unsuspecting worms :)

  3. Shirley
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Liz, your posting has touched me deeply. I have vivid memories of reading Wordworths Ode to the Daffodil all too many years ago in school. This poem comes to mind every Spring when the daffodils bloom. Just as an aside, I remember reading a little rhyme to my two sons (when they were very little). “Daffydown-Dilly has come to town in a yellow pettycoat and a green gown.”
    The daffodill is a very special sign of spring and I am anxiously awaiting the bloom of these flowers in my garden.

    • Liz Lant
      Posted April 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Shirley, this made the son I know best smile. Who knew that daffodils evoked such emotion. Thank you for sharing this lovely memory.

  4. Patty Lant
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Love this posting about daffodils – it brought back a flood of memories. Similar to you, I watch closely every spring to see the first sprouts breaking through the ground and then I selfishly hope for a few weeks of cool spring temperatures so that the blooms will last as long as possible. Several years ago I was inspired by a special woman (and my mother-in-law at the time) to plant daffodil bulbs throughout the forest on my 2 acre lot. Sandy and I shared a passion for gardening and her favourite flower was the daffodil. I vividly remember our last walk together through the forest on her farm near Owen Sound… it was a cool April day and the daffodils she had scattered through her forest were in full bloom. Having recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the walk was a physical challenge for her and an emotional challenge for both of us. We stopped frequently to rest, inspect the blooms and chat about the attributes of each. In spite of the sadness of the time, it is one of my most cherished memories. Sandy died a few months later on Sep. 3. I planted more daffodils in her memory… as I now do every fall.
    Liz, thanks for this posting.

    • Liz Lant
      Posted April 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      Patty, thank you so much for this story. I remember Sandy with great fondness. She was a remarkable woman. You have given me an even greater appreciation for this beautiful flower because I will now always think of Sandy when I see a daffodil.