Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jonquils and Daffodils


Today hundreds of geese could be heard calling in the sky above as they traveled North. The sight of their familiar V shaped flight pattern is always a reminder that harsh winter has finally ended. Thank goodness!

The signs that spring has truly arrived are present with a walk through the garden. The early bulbs, always the first to arrive at the garden party, have begun to flower. Many of our flowers are named after Greek myths, the lovely Narcissus being one of them. Named for the legendary Greek youth who was so enthralled with his own beauty he became forever fixed looking at his own reflection in a pond, the flower lives up to the myth. (And who hasn't known such a man?) Paperwhite Narcissus, with multiple delicate and sweet-scented flowers to a stem, are a ‘must’ for early gardens.

Both the jonquil and daffodil are members of this royal family as well with easily recognizable differences. The daffodil has a long trumpet, the jonquil a short one, rising from the flower circle of six petals. Each stem provides one lovely flower. All of these bulbs multiply underground so they will continue to spread naturally if left undisturbed.

The bulb absorbs nutrients through its sword shaped leaves and sends them to the bulb to assure flowering the following year. For this reason the faded foliage must be left undisturbed. Many gardeners tie or braid the stems together to create a tidier look as the leaves fade and die and tying will give the adjacent flowers air and light. Once they are completely dry, they may be removed without harming the bulb or future flowers.

All of these early flowers do well in arrangements and are a welcome breath of spring when displayed in a vase. Combined together, they are spectacular.