Damp daffs


Gardeners are mad, and that – of course – includes me.

This was brought home to me at 7.30 this morning, when I was outside in a dressing gown and gardening clogs shaking the excessive dew / rain / general wetness off my daffodils, persuading them to stand a little bit more upright and not flop onto the wet grass.

To me, this is perfectly normal. To my neighbour, dog walking in the lane, it isn’t. A pity, really, that the mist wasn’t a little thicker.

Saturday was lovely. Sunday, however, was vile, and there was more unpleasantness overnight. The mist hasn’t really lifted for over 24 hours. And my poor daffs are suffering.

Mind you, they are also looking rather wonderful. There’s a certain subtlety in weather like this which makes some of my more – um, robust – daffs look better than they do in bright sunlight, when they just look jolly. Not that there’s anything wrong with being jolly.

The smaller doubles, of which I have hundreds (I’m not responsible for this glorious abundance, just grateful; they were here before me), are gorgeous in all weathers. While I haven’t actually planted more of these, I think my meadow policy – enough with cutting the grass, already – has really helped them spread. That and splitting the clumps, of course.

Among the Big Yellows and the Delicate Doubles are some others. Most of my whites and narcissi flower later, but not these two. I think they were in an anonymous sack of mixed daffodil bulbs I was given as a present. Any idea what they are? Or indeed, what the doubles are?

In weather like this, I cut the ones which get broken or damaged. And I’m ashamed to admit it, but I keep a tally, adding in all the deadheading.

I’ve been heartened to discover that I’m not the only daff-count dingbat. In fact, I’m in the company of one of my gardening heroes, Christopher Lloyd. His mother paid her children to dead-head their daffodils:

‘It would have been immoral simply to have collected the dead heads, leaving the green stems (though it might, marginally, have been better for the bulbs). The whole stem had to be picked and we had to count how many we picked, being paid a penny a hundred for them. The habit of counting became ingrained, and I have never got over it.’

I’m not quite in that league – at a penny a hundred, I’d not be much better off (though inflation since CL’s childhood would make a difference to the rate). I found last year’s total – 1026. Not as good as 2009, which was 1502. And here’s my first contribution to this year’s cutting total, reminding me that it is sometimes sunny, even in Wales.

And, as I look out of the window now, the mist is getting thicker. I think it’s the Celtic Twilight (but it won’t stop me getting the spuds in).


19 Comments Add yours

  1. I love daffs, though I don’t think I will ever become a daff counter. Apparently, when I was about three, I was discovered lying on my front in the garden with my arms around a clump of daffodils crying because they were getting battered by the wind and I couldn’t protect them enough… I think we are all a little mad!

    1. kate says:

      Ho ho, that did make me laugh – and then I thought, um, she was about three……

  2. Christina says:

    You have cheered me enormously. I love daffodils, the more the better, in great clumps and swathes; they don’t grow well for me, I think it doesn’t get cold enough early enough for them to be happy. I may just have enough for one vase full, I do hope so. If not I be back to look at yours!

    1. kate says:

      Thank you – my daffs cheer me up enormously too, I can’t wait for them to appear after a long gloomy winter. Maybe that’s why I get so protective of them (must go out there and shake a bit of dew off, I can see some bending over too low). Good luck with your vase full!

  3. Could the white one with the shallow yellow cup be the early blooming cultivar ‘Ice Follies’? I am not an expert.

    1. kate says:

      That’s a great suggestion — I just googled it, and it could well be… I do love being given plants as presents, but it is nice to know what they are.

  4. Ginny says:

    Oh, what glorious daffs you have! I also have a double from a mixed bag of unidentified bulbs, but don’t know know what ANY of my daffs are – except beautiful.

    1. kate says:

      Thanks – and you’re quite right, it doesn’t really matter what the names are. They are gorgeous whatever.

  5. Wonderful post… beautiful setting and writing.

    Color is so richer when it is wet. I once read that when you were having an open garden day with visitors, that you should wet everything down in the morning. Makes for darker mulch and shiny foliage. Guess you would like to do with a little less wetting though.

    Thanks for the post,

    1. kate says:

      Thank you – and I must bear that tip about water in mind when I’m trying to take photos on a dry day. Ironically, since then we’ve had sunshine and people starting to complain that it’s too dry (not me, though). Sigh.

  6. Hanni says:

    How beautiful! And I think it is perfectly reasonable to be out protecting your daff babies… 🙂

    1. kate says:

      I’m glad someone does! (The same man caught me shouting at my garlic… hmm)

  7. Your daffodils are wonderful. I love seeing them naturalizing freely like in your meadow. It reminds me of where I grew up in Pennsylvania. I always thought that was the best place to grow daffodils because it was effortlessly.

    1. kate says:

      Thanks – I do agree. The meadow was previously just a large lawn once the daffs had died down, and I suspect laziness was an important part of my decision to let it grow (I hate mowing)…. but whatever the motivation, it’s certainly worked.

  8. Nell Jean says:

    I vote for the white one to be Ice Follies, too.

    They’re about all gone here. We’re seeing Thalia and Baby Moon which signals season’s end.

    1. kate says:

      Thanks – I shall go shopping in the autumn and get a few more, because I love a white daff. My Poet’s Eye are just beginning to open now, and they’re usually my last – but everything is still flowering away like mad. Good!

  9. Jack Wagner says:

    It will be many weeks before I even see the first daffodil here at the gardens. Right now, still snow on the ground from this week’s storms. Take a look at my Blog and you can see it all. It is pretty but, please, lets get to the daffodils and all the other Spring flowers. I am about to get total cabin fever if the snow doesn’t melt!! I like the first photo of the daffodil field – nice. Jack

    1. kate says:

      Thanks — and looking at your snow, I think all your daffs are being very sensible indeed and not sticking their heads above ground… We are having what, I suspect, is summer at present – sunny, mild, we’ve even got tourists; basically, it feels like June. I’m sure my garden is in shock (I certainly am).

  10. Mo says:

    Hi, and thanks for visiting out Blog. I was pleased to learn on my first visit here that you are a ‘mad gardener’ 😉
    I do envy you your daffs…

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