Monday, February 6, 2012

Naturalizing Daffodils

Naturalized Daffodils in a Woodland Setting~

Over the past few weeks sunny skies and balmy temperatures lulled us into believing our winter would be mild. Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, the psychic ground hog, ’saw’ his shadow last Thursday and his prediction was correct… six more weeks of winter. He had barely nestled into his lair for another nap before our neighbors in Colorado were blasted with a snowfall that broke state records. And although we received some welcome rain, most of the weekend was miserable with a jacket-penetrating, biting North wind and it seems our winter is just beginning.

Last week several daring Black Currant bushes were fooled into believing it was spring and although they appeared with sparse blooms, their sweet scent wafted throughout the garden. The bright yellow, scarlet centered little flowers were dancing along the branches before the wind promptly rained on their parade and stopped their foolish haste.

While cleaning the porch I found a forgotten bag of 50 high quality Daffodil bulbs hiding behind a chair; I had purchased them last fall for half price. Besides the obvious questions ‘what was I thinking and how did I lose them?’, their discovery was a delightful surprise and they will need to be planted the next nice day.

The Daffodils and my 'yard shoes'.

Daffodils are among the first to arrive in the garden to usher in the joy of spring. They have so few requirements that they may be successfully grown by anyone… even novice gardeners and children will be enthralled by their ease. There are early, mid, and late blooming varieties and planting some of each will allow for a continuous show all spring.

Daffodil bulbs multiply underground and over time may become truly spectacular if left undisturbed. One bulb eventually becomes ten or more so besides being economical, they should to be planted with enough room to spread. For this reason they are perfect candidates for a process called ’naturalizing’. Naturalizing allows the bulbs to evolve over time in a particular setting and it is preferably one which is not the usual garden. The site may be at the edge of a field or orchard, on a hill, or any random unexpected place a spot of spring beauty will be appreciated. Planted in swirling drifts, floating as a sea of early color, Daffodils are truly show-stopping.

The area chosen for naturalizing bulbs needs good drainage but since Daffodils bloom before early leaves appear, sun is not a factor and they may be planted under trees. Plant six inches deep and allow for their expansion. Following blooming the foliage must be left for six weeks to store energy for blooms the next year and then it may be mowed. Even though it’s late, I’ll ‘naturalize’ my bulbs and wait for my surprise… be it this year or next, it will be worth the wait.