A daffodil is for life, not just for St David’s Day

Daffodils.

It has to be, really. And at least this year I have the appropriate flowers out in time, and in some quantity (though I’ve only picked 29 so far – many more to be added to the count before May comes round and ‘production’ dribbles away to nothing).

Cennin Pedr – aka Peter’s Leeks:

Daff1

How did St Peter get in on the act? I’ve been trying to find out. So far I’ve come up with diddley-squat, but I have flushed someone who knows daffodils as cennin aur – golden leeks.  In England they’ve also been known as Lent Lillies, Lenten Lillies and Easter Lillies, as well as any number of more local names. I tend to stick with daffs.

I’ve always loved them. I’m not a huge fan of cut flowers, preferring them growing in the garden to dying in a vase (it’s the way I was brought up), but I do try and have a vase of daffs on the go during the season.

daffs2

Generally I pick the vulnerable ones, the ones which have bent their heads earthwards and which will either be splattered into the ground by rain or eaten by slugs if I don’t get there first. Fortunately I have so many that there is usually no shortage of these, despite dividing and replanting clumps every year.

daff3

They’re not quite this lavish yet (I must admit that this is a cheaty shot from last year), but they’ll get there soon. In spite of all the insanity of recent weather – ‘blow winds … blow / You cataracts and hurricanes, spout / Till you have drenched our steeples…’, and they flipping did, garden resembles a blasted heath, kept expecting ex-King Lear and Edgar to come into view for much of February – the prospects look good.

And even the primroses and the chionodoxas and the anemones and the beginnings of the fritillaries (shh, mentioning them might frighten them away) are starting to show themselves in the meadow. But tomorrow, 1 March, belongs to the cennin pedr, the daffodils which will soon turn the top garden yellow and green.

daff backs

For now and possibly for the next month, the garden belongs to the Big Yellows and the Smaller Doubles. Then the White Trumpets kick in, then the miscellaneous Inherited Unidentifiable Oddballs, and then the Poet’s Eyes will round the season off. I’ve a count of over 1500 to beat. And so it goes on, year after year. Wonderful stuff, gardening!

(And I shall be celebrating Gwyl Dewi Sant by going shopping in Chester. I will, of course, be wearing full national costume and carrying a giant leek, a rugby player, three miners, a bara brith and a small dragon. Not.)

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17 thoughts on “A daffodil is for life, not just for St David’s Day

  1. Pauline

    Wishing you a Happy St. David’s Day tomorrow and a happy day shopping in wonderful Chester, my favourite place for shopping when we lived in the north west. Narcissus have started flowering here, soon the white of snowdrops will change to the yellow of the daffs. You certainly had a fantastic show of them last year, hope this year is as good for you!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I gave Chester your best wishes as I slogged round the increasingly crowded streets – I’m getting spoilt by living in the countryside and find it really difficult to walk in busy towns – there’s always someone messing about. Men, mostly, who I’m convinced don’t really want to be there…

      Friend I met brought me a small pot of tete a tete daffs as a Dewi Sant gift, though. They are sooooo sweet…

      Reply
  2. Christina

    Daffodils really do say, loud and clear, spring to me. I love them and yours growing in such proffussion are wonderful. I’m not one who prefers all the small delicate species for me the big trumpets really do, well, trumpet in the spring! Can’t grow them well here, from a huge planting there are about half a dozen so keep posting about them, I love seeing them. Happy St. David’s Day.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Don’t they? In spite of evidence (I’ve got numerous pics of daffs in snow), I always feel we’ve seen the worst of the weather when the daffs start appearing. Hope I’m right…

      (And I will, of course, keep them appearing here too!)

      Reply
  3. hillwards

    Happy St David’s Day! I was pleased to see one of our Tenby daffodils had fittingly stepped out in today’s sunshine! We’re a long way from 1500 here though…Wow! This is indeed their season, I love that annual progression from the early yellows to the paler ones and then the Pheasant’s Eye just as the tulips take over the show.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      And to you too (even if a little belatedly)!

      It’s looking as though it might be a good daff season – it’s not just my garden, but everyone else’s too, and even the clumps beside the roads are looking substantial. I think they must have liked last summer. (I did, please can we have another?)

      Reply
        1. kate Post author

          DRY would be the essential word, at least for me. Sunny would be good, warm would be lovely, but being able to walk to the compost bin without wellies and a kagoule would be pure heaven.

          (Some people dream of lottery wins, I’m going for dry feet.)

  4. hoehoegrow

    Daffodils are looking fab! Trouble is, I’m so impatient for more and am wishing my days away until that real burst of growth a little later on. Why can’t I just seize the moment!

    Reply
  5. angiesgardendiaries

    How on earth do you count how many daffs you have? I’d have run out of fingers and toes way before I reached the end of that count 😉
    I’m a bit late in wishing you a Happy St. David’s Day, hope you had a good one!

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Last things first – I did, thank you!

      Daffs are easy – I just keep a tally of how many I pick and count the dead heads when I’m tidying up (later on). Apparently Christopher Lloyd always did this, having been trained by his mother when young. She used to reward him with pennies, apparently. I fancy being rewarded with crisp £50 notes, but hey ho…

      Reply
  6. Anna

    Wishing you a belated happy St.David’s Day Kate. Now what where you do crossing the border on such an auspicious day? When it comes to shopping in Chester, the best strategy is to make sure that you leave by 11.00am at the latest, otherwise that giant leek etc. are essentials for cutting a swathe through the shoppers, tourists etc.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      I know, it’s shocking isn’t it? But we weren’t there after nightfall – and neither of us is male – so we didn’t run the risk of execution..!
      I must admit that (both of us being ex-hacks and not averse to an early start in search of a story or an snack) we get a scary early start and are usually in a coffee bar drinking espressos and eating croissants by 9. It is truly horrible later on!

      On crowds: we were thinking of bringing electric cattle prods next time – though a leek might be a better idea in terms of avoiding prosecution / execution.

      Reply
  7. wellywoman

    I was in Cardiff on Saturday and I have to say I was mightily disappointed not to see any giant leeks, inflatable daffs or even any dragons. Instead, the city was teeming with super heros and people dressed up as science fiction characters. I did wonder initially whether this was some new Welsh custom. Turns out it was one of those comic conventions. 😉 I think it’s hard to beat the golden glow of daffs in spring sunshine. It’s such an uplifting colour after the drabness of winter.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Oh, what a shame about the absence of leeks etc – but comic conventions can be quite entertaining; I remember turning round in a London sandwich bar to find it was full of Klingons. Quite surreal. Er, about as surreal as wearing a large leek on your hat, which one US cookbook assures me ‘everyone’ does in Wales on St David’s Day. I’d need a hat first…

      Reply

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