Sunday, January 18, 2009

First flowers

Today I captured these first daffodils of the season blooming in my front yard.

The botanical name for daffodils is Narcissus. Perhaps the flowers' beauty, coupled with its slight downward gaze, reminded early botanists of the beautiful youth in Greek myth, so enamored of his own image reflected in a pool that he fell in and drowned.

"Daffodil" is the common English name for the flower, and this name has been in use since at least the sixteenth century.

Large trumpet-flowered daffodils, like the ones Wordsworth describes in his poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," thrive in colder climates, where the bulbs need a period of cooling to spur them to grow again in the spring. Those of us who live in Southern regions can't grow these big beauties, because our winters never get cold enough for them.

We can, however, grow the little bunch-flowered Narcissus tazetta, or the Narcissus poeticus - the Poet's flower; also called Pheasant Eye for its golden corona rimmed with orange. This is the flower most closely associated with the legend of Narcissus.

My daffodils are Narcissus jonquila, and are commonly grown in Southern states. In fact, this species is so common in the South that many people there call all daffodils Jonquils.

The Paperwhite Narcissus, with its srongly fragrant flowers, can be enjoyed by both Southern and Northern gardeners - it grows freely in my California yard, but those in cold climates can grow it indoors in a bowl of pebbles, where it will bloom and perfume your house.

The wide variety of Narcissus species bloom over a long range during early winter and spring, so if you choose carefully, you can have daffodils in your garden from January through May.

"And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
- William Wordsworth

4 comments:

The Muse said...

:) I have a hard time with growing these flowers..but I shall not give up!! :)

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

sure, we'lll get those too-----IN APRIL!

Csquaredplus3 said...

Beautiful. We're still staring at lots and lots of snow. I skied yesterday which was wonderful, but your photograph plants a seed for spring fever!

Kate said...

I love these wonderful yellow flowers; first also in the Northwest although we will wait another 6 weeks to see them.