Daffodils

March 01, 2022

I am always amazed how amid the bitter cold, freezing rain, and sleet, the flowers still rise if there is a warm day to set them off.  Prior to converting our front bed to succulents, Melissa and her mom had planted the area under the Japanese red maple with ground cover and daffodil bulbs.  When we transformed the bed to succulents, we took out the mulch, added pea gravel, and waited to see what would come up.  We have also been forced to put garden mesh over the bed over the last two winters as we try and preserve the succulents beneath.  Last week I noticed the daffodils had bloomed under the cover of mesh.

When I looked online, I found that Daffodils (Narcissus spp. or “various species”) are one of the earliest spring-blooming flowers.  These hardy perennials grow in most regions of North America, except in the hottest, wettest areas, such as South Florida.  Daffodils are a fall-planted bulb which then bloom in late winter or early spring.  The traditional daffodil flower may be a showy yellow or white, with six petals and a trumpet-shape central corona, but many cultivated varieties (“cultivars”) exist today.   The cultivar planted in our bed are the Daffodil Large Cupped Red Devon.  This award-winning heirloom daffodil was bred in Devonshire, England and was first introduced in 1943.  Red Devon attracts the eye from yards away with its brilliant yellow petals and flashy orange cups.  This is said to be a dependable performer and great naturalizer.  It has adapted well to several of our beds.

Narcissus is the proper name for all daffodils.  While the exact origin of the name Narcissus is unknown, but it is often linked to a Greek word for intoxicated (narcotic) and the myth of the youth of that name who fell in love with his own reflection.  It is called a narcotic because its bulb houses a toxic substance, and the Greek word ‘narcissus’ means ‘numbness’, so it is a reference to its narcotic nature.  The English word “daffodil” appears to be derived from “asphodel”, a flower with which it was commonly compared.  The most common symbolic meanings attributed to the narcissus flower are rebirth, renewal, and the coming of spring.  It can also mean good luck, happiness, prosperity, and wealth.

THOUGHTS:  Echo and Narcissus is a myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a Roman epic from the Augustan Age.  The myth tells the story of the mountain nymph Echo and the beautiful youth Narcissus with whom she falls in love.  Echo is rejected (fading into the wind) and Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection (and becomes a one of the daffodils).  The introduction to the myth appears to be of Ovid’s own invention and Ovid’s version influenced the presentation of the myth in later Western art and literature.  Narcissus’ vanity came from ego and a focus on self.  We need to make sure we do not become the myth.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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