One of my favorite freelance writing gigs was a daily blog I wrote for WRAL.com called Gardening Gloves. It ran for two years, beginning in the spring 2007. On my way out the door today I noticed my lovely Narcissus peeking through the mulch in the front garden, and remembered that it was just about this time last year that I wrote about it on WRAL.com. Wouldn’t you know it–it was exactly a year ago, to the day. This was a fun post because I was able to incorporate mythology (my favorite) into the story.
Poor Narcissus, the handsome fella doomed by the avenging goddess Nemesis to fall in love with the water nymph Echo, who could only repeat the words of others. The early-Spring flower is said to have sprung from where he died by the riverbank, and it’s also fabled to have been the last flower Persephone picked before being swiped by Hades.
I love a good story, particularly when it carries over to my other favorite pastime, gardening. The narcissus is a great example, in mythology and gardening and in still life art, of the concept of veritas … the idea that every living thing must come to an end. Like Narcissus’ young life, narcissus flowers have a very short blooming period. Narcissus is one of dozens of varieties of daffodils, all of which are pretty easy to grow.
According to the American Daffodil Society, “plant the bulbs when grounds have cooled, in some climates September and for warmer climates in November.” They need well-drained soil in a sunny spot, and will grow well in hilly landscapes. Plant them at least a foot deep, and make sure they have plenty of water the year you plant them. They acclimate pretty quickly and will multiply on their own. I’ve had some bulbs bloom five or six years in a row, and them some that never bloom more than one season. Crucial to the survival of bulbs, in my experience and by growing tip, “do not cut the foliage until it begins to yellow (usually late May or June).”
Keep in mind that daffodils, like many other bulbs, are great flowers to share with family and friends.
And just because I couldn’t not include this (and because my mom raised me on movies like Alien): Narcissus was the name of the shuttle craft where Sigourney Weaver played out her last battle with the alien.