Daffodil of Destiny-Narcissus Psuedonarcissus

February 21, 2013 old 009 (2)
Beloved wildflower* of the British Isles and beyond, it is the color of sunshine as winter begins its long goodbye.

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It is the harbinger of a new beginning in the Fairegarden, along with the Helleborus orientalis.

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As the renovation of the property proceeded ever so slowly at the beginning of 2001, the property next door was readied for demolition. It was to be a garage with living space above, to be joined to the main house at some future date. Growing right at the foundation of the porch of that small, cinder block structure was a dense row of daffodil foliage, seemingly coming right from under the structure. Those bulbs had no flowers or buds to help identify them, but they were recognized as daffodils by the narrow foliage. The shovel was thrust as deeply as possible into the wintered soft earth to yield hundreds of tiny bulbs. They were thick as lawn grass fed with high octane fertilizer, too crowded to be able to produce flower buds. A trench was dug at the far edge of the slope and the little bulbs were planted there with more spacing until permanent locations could be found for them.

February 18, 2012 025 (2)
Time passed and the next spring saw the flowers of these rescued daffodils. The bloom time was extremely early, the beginning of February. It was at least two weeks ahead of any other daffodils and the search was on to try and identify them. The first named variety that seemed to match up was Narcissus Rjinveld’s Early Sensation, but the lighter colored twisting outer petals of our foundlings were not quite the same as those of Rjinveld.

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More reading and studying led us to an article about the early and prolific blooming of Narcussus psuedonarcissus in the tribal lands of Oklahoma. Click here to read it. It was written that the belief is that these daffodils were carried with the Cherokees when they were forced from their lands near the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee and elsewhere to designated Indian land in Northeast Oklahoma. This march was a horrendous injustice called the Trail Of Tears. A very precise explanation of this travesty can be read by clicking here.

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Even more research revealed that the beginning of this cruel journey was very near to where we now live, just a few miles away, in fact. These same daffodils are now in bloom everywhere in and around my small southern town, including on wooded land where there are no homes. Imagining that these could possibly be the same type of daffodil carried by people who loved them on their forced trek is both sobering and inspiring. I was born and raised in Northeast Oklahoma, coincidentally.

February 21, 2013 old 008 (2)
These daffodils, whatever they may be, are not the prettiest nor the tallest nor the smallest, but they are by far the most beloved of them all for their very early and very prolific bloom time. They have been spread across most of the back gardens, with the dividing done in late winter rather than the fall as most garden articles advise. A how to post about that was written a couple of years ago that can be seen by clicking here. This year the spreading has crossed into the front gardens as well. There cannot be too many daffodils, especially this one. Whether this is truly N. psuedonarcissus may never be known, but in my heart, they represent something that lives strong in all gardeners, whatever their situation. The need to plant and to grow.

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*The sweet European native Narcissus pseudonarcissus that was growing wild on our property is to be considered part of my friend Gail’s Wildflower Wednesday offerings for February 2013. Please do go check out her blog to see what else might catch your fancy.

Frances

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27 Responses to Daffodil of Destiny-Narcissus Psuedonarcissus

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It won’t be long and we will have daff blooming here too. Happy WFW.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by. May your wait for the daffodils be short and their blooming season be long! Happy WW to you!
    Frances

  2. such lovely spring flowers! 🙂

    Thanks!

  3. Mary McGrath says:

    I live in far northern Vermont, where spring is a couple of months away – thanks. I think I have these same plants here. We bought an old farm (built in the 1830’s, probably), and our first spring here (1989), there were clumps of what look exactly like these daffodils here. Bright yellow trumpets, not too tall, but full clumps. I’ve moved them and replaced a lot, but they still bloom.

    Hi Mary, thanks for adding to the conversation here. That is wonderful about your heritage daffodils. I often see photos of old homesteads with clumps of what look to be the same as what was growing here. It is the early bloom that sets them apart from others.
    Frances

  4. gail says:

    Love these early blooming UK beauties~I hope the ones you’ve shared with me flower next year. They’ve had time to settle in, love and decent soil. Happy Wildflower Wednesday Frances. xoxoxogail

    HiGail, thanks so much. I do hope the shared daffodils give you many years of happiness. Happy WW to you!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  5. Jean says:

    I’m going to try to divide some daffs soon as well. Otherwise, I totally forget where they are. I love those and the story that goes with them (well, not the story but the idea that they could be the same beloved daffodils). Thank you for sharing the beauty and the story.

    Hi Jean, thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, how can we divide and spread the daffodils in fall when the ground is like concrete and we cannot see any of the spring blooming bulbs to know where to plant them? It defies all reason! This is a very sad story with a grain of garden love in it.
    Frances

  6. Andrea says:

    They are so beautiful, mainly because they are so cheerful and growing together among themselves. You are lucky to inherit them. I also see behind some purple crocus, I guess yellow and purple goes beautiful together. I haven’t seen daffodils yet in person.

    Hi Andrea, thanks for the kind words. May you soon see daffodils in person. The purple crocus go very well with the yellow daffodils, but in my experience all flowers go well together.
    Frances

  7. Your story has all the elements of a fascinating tale, Frances – beauty, history and mystery. My most cherished plants are the ones with a story behind them: the spiderwort that my mother considered a weed, the huge gardenia we hauled from my mother-in-law’s yard all the way from Alabama to Virginia and the old-fashioned irises my friend Mary offered if I would come over and dig. Wonderful connections with the past that make me smile just typing this. Dare I pull over on my way to work and dig up a few of those mystery daffodils growing in the ditch along the road? 🙂

    Hi Georgie, thanks for that support, I do appreciate it. Passalong plants are so very special. I too have many of them. If you are asking my permission to dig up daffs along the road, the answer is yes but leave some of them there.
    Frances

  8. Your pictures just gave me a jolt of spring that I need with all our cold, snow and ice now…can’t wait to see these yellow beauties.

    Hi Donna, thanks for visiting. Seeing the yellow cheering flowers really does make spring that much more special.
    Frances

  9. Christy says:

    Thanks for a wonderful post! I may have some of these because I have one clump of daffys that start blooming in early February. My others must be different because some are just coming up, and some ready to bloom in a day or two. All of my daffys were given to me, so I don’t know the names of them. I don’t have many, but plan on getting more! They’re just so pretty!

    Hi Christy, thanks for adding to the conversation here. These earliest of daffodils must be all over the Eastern US, especially in the Southeast. They are so much earlier, and smaller and have the lighter, twisty outer petals. Spread them about!
    Frances

  10. Jane Carroll says:

    Frances,

    I love this post. They look like the variety that grows here in north Alabama as well. They were my grandmother’s favorites and her yard was filled with them. Growing up…and even now…we call them buttercups which isn’t the proper name…but it’s the one that fills my heart and what I will always call them. Granny’s were blooming several years ago when she passed away in early January. I was able to pick a huge bouquet and the florist incorporated them into the funeral arrangements. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I love knowing that your garden is filled with them as well.

    Hi Jane, thanks so much for sharing your daffodil story. The old timers around here also call me buttercups. It took me a while to know they were talking about daffodils. How special that you were able to incorporate some into your grandmother’s funeral flowers. That must have brought smiles to all.
    Frances

  11. A little nudge by me and her reading your daffodil dividing techniques has convinced Bulbarella to try things your way. She is all exited about moving her bulbs when she can see where they are and where they are not when she gets here this year. Your spring show is looking grand. I’m expecting more snow starting tonight.

    Hi Christopher and Bulbarella, I am so glad that you are excited about moving your bulbs when everything can be seen. It just makes more sense to me. Stay warm and safe during your snowfall!
    Frances

  12. Layanee says:

    They are beautiful en masse. I am ready for spring.

    Oh yes, Layanee, the more the merrier!
    Frances

  13. Great story. Love the bright yellow blooms of the daffs along the roadside and in the fields. Often we think there might have been a homestead in the area, but now with your story I will have to rethink why some are showing up in certain spots.

    Hi Janet, thanks. It is fun to imagine who first planted the daffodils we see in empty fields. These have also seeded here, the only daffs to do so.
    Frances

  14. Shady gardener says:

    My word, Frances, your photos are beautiful. They show a most beautiful, naturalized setting. Makes me long for Spring, and it makes me long to be doing MORE planting!! Interesting (fun, too) post, and I’m getting inspired!
    🙂

    Hi Shady, thanks. As with most bulbs, more is always better! My garden is not very natural, but having those daffodils all over makes it a dream come true. I keep spreading more every year. One of these days, the whole hillside will be full of these beauties.
    Frances

  15. Dee says:

    I know of those daffodils in Oklahoma up near Tahlequah. The Trail of Tears was horrible although the other tribes that were moved also suffered horribly. Only the Chickasaw refused to be conquered, and they practically own Oklahoma today. I chuckle when I think of the last. Love your sweet daffs. They are heralds of spring too.~~Dee

    Oh yes, Dee, there were other tribes involved, including what we learned in Oklahoma history class as the Five Civilized Tribes. They departed from various locations in the Southeast, including the town just a little south of where we now live. I never knew that about this area until doing the research for this post, either. It is not something they advertise.
    Frances

  16. What a great story, and a flower whose beauty is felt more keenly because of the early season. I had no idea about the connection between these daffodils and the Cherokee.

    Hi Jason, thanks. It is the time of bloom that first brought this daffodil to my attention. I am glad to know more about the history of it, and why it is all over here.
    Frances

  17. Ogee says:

    Their history makes them even more special and beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Thanks Ogee. It was fascinating to dig deeper into the history of these lovely flowers.
    Frances

  18. Cindy says:

    Glorious!

    Thanks, Cindy.

  19. Lola says:

    I so love these little beauties. I only have 2 blooming [different]. Sure wish I had a start of this kind. Hint.
    Thanks for taking us on a tour of all the beauty of your home. I will have to check to see about mine that aren’t blooming & haven’t for yrs..

    Hi Lola, thanks. I suggest you dig, divide and move your non bloomers to a sunnier spot.
    Frances

  20. Charlie says:

    The crocuses have just started to come up through the ground and to bloom. The daffodils are soon to follow. I enjoyed your photos and the walk through your garden. I found your comments about how we humans cling to a little beauty in even the worst of times inspiring.

    Hi Charlie, thanks for the kind words. Hooray for your spring bulbs appearing now. They are so cheering. I do feel that gardening gives us hope even when things seem the most bleak.
    Frances

  21. I love stories like that. I will have to look closely for the twisted petals when the daffs bloom at the old house. I rescued several kinds there in a similar manner to what you did. Our fall usually has a lot of rain, so I dug them when the leaves were just about gone and replanted in the fall. But I agree, it is even better to move them when you can see other spring bloomers.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for reading. I hope you have some of these very special early bloomers at the old house. Being able to see all of the spring blooming bulbs and the perennials and lilies is the best time for digging here. The ground becomes hard as rock later in the summer, impossible to dig.
    Frances

  22. Sharon says:

    what a lovely story and spendid display that brings joy to the heart…I wish they could grow here as they are my favorite yellow bloom

    Hi Sharon, thanks so much. The yellow flowers are indeed just the thing to cheer us up as winter seems to drag on way too long.
    Frances

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  24. Leslie Grossman says:

    I, too am in East Tennessee. Quick Question: How deep Do I plant them? I divided about 500 from 10 clumps, two falls ago, and replanted. ONly about 50% are showing foliage, and less than 1/2 are blooming. How deep is TOO deep? I fear they are almost in China.

    Hi Leslie, thanks for visiting. Your question depends on what type of daffodil you have. Are the others well up? Some daffs are just later than others. About the only thing that can go wrong with daffodils are drowning, in too wet soil with poor drainage or the foliage not allowed to fully ripen and cure. Cutting off the foliage while it is still green can cause them to not come back. Planting too deeply should not be a problem, other than causing them to appear later. It can take a couple of years or more for them to get large enough to bloom again. Maybe you could dig some up and have a look at them? Good luck and don’t give up!
    Frances

    • Leslie Grossman says:

      OK. Some of the daffs I dug up had upwards of 100 bulbs in the hole. I was astonished. The buldbs were not large; I would say about 1 1/2″ in diameter to 1″ were most of their sizes. I forgot to put bone meal down when I replanted. Was thinking about putting some 5-10-10 grandules around them this weekend, to help their development. Your thoughts? Leslie in Knoxville

      Hi Leslie. If the bulbs were so small, mine were also like that in the original digging, it will take a few years for most of them to get to blooming size. Bone meal or fertilizer might help, but daffs are not really heavy feeders. Make sure they are in sun, too and good luck!
      Frances

  25. I don’t remember the names of any of my daffodils. Those sure are pretty. I love the photo with the daffs and all those beautiful hellebores!

    Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by. The blog posts help me remember the daffodil names, thank goodness, with the photos. The earliest daffs, those in this post, go so well with the hellebores. It is a match made in heaven.
    Frances

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