Daffodils for Dewi Sant

That’s it, it’s officially almost spring. It’s bitterly cold, there’s a sneaky wind off Cardigan Bay, but I can see the hills, an improvement on the last few days, and it’s not raining. And it’s Saint David’s Day, so it really is nearly spring.


Rather than break into a loud chorus of Hen Wlad (too much coughing would be involved, due to the arrival of the jolly end-of-winter bronchitis), I thought I’d celebrate my daffodils.

But why daffs and Wales? Actually, nobody seems quite sure. Some commentators think it’s the confusion between the Welsh names for leek (cehinen, pl. cennin) and daffodil (cehinen Bedr, literally St Peter’s leek). Leeks, according to legend, were selected as an identifying symbol for Welsh troops – they were fighting the Saxons, no surprise there – by St David. What is surprising is that St David should be associated with a military context, though – a saint noted for his aceticism and restraint. Budge the legend on a few centuries, though, and leeks are supposedly used to identify troops, notably Welsh archers, fighting in France under Henry V (thanks, Shakespeare).

Leeks dropped out of favour as a national symbol because they came to be associated with odious stereotypes of the ‘Taffy was a Welshman / Taffy was a thief’ variety. So what could work? Well, daffs appear around the same time as St David’s Day – indeed, I’ve just picked my first fifteen and started the annual count – and Lloyd George (a local lad) wore the daff on this day and encouraged others to do so. It’s a recent tradition, and it’s pretty common. Unlike the general wearing of leeks, though several US commentators, including Wikipedia, insist we’re all going around today wearing leeks. Just consider practicalities. And smell. I know which I go for.

And here are some of my finest, from the meadow and previous years – natch; they need a couple more weeks to really get going (and, yes, of course some of them are narcissi… but then strictly speaking, they all are):


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Pauline says:

    What a wonderful display of daffodils! Mine are just starting to come out but it will be a while before I can cut any. I was born in Wales, does that make me Welsh? During the war, Liverpool was being bombed and the pregnant Mums were sent to Wales to have their babies, hospitals were needed for the war wounded, then it was straight back to Liverpool and the bombing.

    1. kate says:

      Oh, I think you’re definitely Welsh, much more so than me, even if there’s a string Scouse element – I can lend you a sheep hat if that helps, 😉

      (I know lots of people who have that sort of link..)

  2. Spade & Dagger says:

    According to this morning’s Radio 4 weatherman, it’s not ‘nearly spring’, it is officially meteorological spring. You know that’s right by the howling wind and torrents of rain overflowing the gutters at the moment.

    1. kate says:

      We had snow. And it’s bitter enough for more… so it’s definitely spring!

  3. Anna says:

    Happy St.David’s Day Kate! What a striking daffodil collage. I think that a daffodil is definitely a more appealing symbol than a leek. Here my little daffies opened right on cue today. Interesting to read Pauline’s comment as a couple of my Scouse spouse’s older siblings were born during the war. Maybe they could be Welsh too? 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Your little daffs obviously knew what they were doing – but the poor things if they’re having the weather we are. Mine are looking a bit shell-shocked…

      (PS: definitely Welsh)

  4. The gorgeous bright yellow of the first spring daffodils is so welcome, and frankly a little bit more needed this year than most.

    1. kate says:

      Oh yes – but they’re looking a bit battered now. I want to go and wrap them all up snuggly!

  5. Cathy says:

    Ah, your annual count – didn’t hear it mentioned last year so I am glad you are still doing it as it seemed such a cheery task. But how do you know which ones you have counted already…?

    1. kate says:

      Oh, that’s easy – they get counted as I either pick them or dead-head them. It works, except I can be heard talking to myself in the garden. But everyone thinks I’m bonkers anyway…

      1. Cathy says:

        Better bonkers than boring 😉

  6. croftgarden says:

    I was beginning to wonder if the local saint had pulled off a minor miracle in inducing your daffs to flower until I read on. We’re still in winter’s icy grasp, although I have a few battered tete a tete doing their best in a pot, so your photos really made me smile.

  7. My daffodils are all bud and no flower but reading this has set me longing for their flowering again. Lovely!

    1. kate says:

      At least that means there’ll be lots of them very soon – maybe if the ‘heatwave’ we’ve been promised actually materialises…

  8. hoehoegrow says:

    Ah, thank you for a very uplifting collection of photos! Mine should all be out and doing their thing, but for some reason, despite a mild winter, they are sulking and dragging their heels!

    1. kate says:

      It’s not just you, if that’s any comfort. I’m usually picking in February…

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