Monday, February 16, 2009

Daffodils Part III

Back in the fall I took this picture of a soybean field. Starting off a lush, green carpet, soybeans slowly turn yellow before becoming a crispy brown at the time of harvest. Speaking of green and yellow, but not of crispy brown, I turn to the topic of my favorite flower, the daffodil.

Below is a continuation of the speech my paternal grandmother gave to a convention in Richmond in the 1970’s. My grandfather was a commercial daffodil grower, so she had first-hand knowledge of the topic at hand.
“…The taxonomists still refer to our subject matter as “Narcissus,” although in common practice, in the catalogues of the world, and in most garden magazines, they are called “daffodils.” I think we may as well accept the facts and call them daffodils, since the word “narcissus” and “daffodil” mean exactly the same thing. There are a great many people who call all daffodils “jonquils” but this is completely erroneous. The jonquil is merely one of eleven families of daffodils—a little multi-flowered, sweet-scented item—and actually constitutes only a very small part of the whole daffodil family.

Many of our friends and neighbors in Mathews County refer to these flowers as “lilies”—but since many of the early colonists came from England and brought wild Lent Lilies, you can understand why the nomenclature “lilies” has persisted, as have many other words and expressions, dating back to Colonial days and their English heritage.

If you’re a lazy gardener, like me, and/or often ask yourself questions, a $64 one might be, “Why grow daffodils?” Well, here might be an answer. Few members of the plant world are easier to grow and keep growing year after year with a minimum of attention than the daffodil, once it is established. No special care is required unless you count good drainage which most plants and all bulbs need. Since daffodils are planted well beneath the earth and enjoy sun or shade, sweet or sour soil, it is obvious that they can fit perfectly into any perennial border or naturalized area, into any odd nook or cranny among the shrubbery, such as a border down a fence or wall, and even in flower boxes, rock gardens, greenhouses or for forcing indoors.

You just can’t find anything easier to raise and get along with.”

CBW Again.

The grandmother who wrote this was not from Mathews, she was a "come here" born in Coffeeville, Kansas, and was the wife of an Army man who retired in Mathews.

I confess I've never heard daffodils called lilies, or rather I don't remember anyone calling them lilies. All that means is that people probably have called them lilies right to my face--no doubt as recently as yesterday--and I've forgotten about it, due to the fact that all memory functions were deleted from my brain after having children.

Stay tuned for the day when the Surgeon General slaps a warning label on all newborns that says, "Caution: Do not attempt to take this child home with you until you have deposited your brain in the dumpster behind the hospital. You won't need it any longer. Trust us on this topic. Thank you."

Remember to cast your vote for the winner of last week's story contest. Go back and read the entries below, and send your vote to me at

I will accept votes up until 7:00 p.m. tonight, and I hope to announce the winner on Tuesday, although the fact that I have to commit to a day is very distressing, so let's just say I'll announce the winner as soon as I can. Or later.

Contestant #1 - Moon Over Mathews

Contestant #2 - Most Memorable Hitch-Hiker

Contestant #3 - Everything Old is New

Contestant #4 - Cast of Characters

Contestant #5 - First Kiss

Contestant #6 - Young People

Contestant #7 - Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister

Contestant #8 - Hitch-Hiking: A Lost Art

Contestant #9 - Larry


Unknown said...

I'm hoping you got my vote recorded in the official tally was for #7, MS's entry.

I don't know why anyone would call a doffodil a lily either except maybe they both come from bulbs but then so do gladiolas and tulips.
Be careful messing with the surgeon general's warnings. Do we have a surgeon general anymore?

Unknown said...

daffodil...not doffodil...sorry it's late, or early here.

Karen Deborah said...

you are so right about the kids and the brain thing. But then it gets worse, about the time they are grown menopause sets in and finishes you off.
my vote is for # 7 too.

Ann Marie said...

My vote.. young people.

Mental P Mama said...

Daffodils really are about the best flower there is--early and beautiful. Wait. What was the question?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - I did get your vote, and it's written down. I think Dr. Phil is the Surgeon General, isn't he?

KD - Don't get me started on menopause, I'm in denial over that up and coming horror. Pardon me while I race off to have a hot flash.

AM - Got it - thanks.

MPM - I forgot what you just said.

Happy Presidents Day - hope you're able to enjoy it from the comfort of a bathrobe like I intend to. Of course, if you're at work, you may want to leave the bath robe at home.

Anonymous said...

"...sweet or sour soil..." Hmmmm.

Is it wrong that I wore my bathrobe to work?

Annie said...

Just priceless to come here each and to be able to laugh out loud!

Hard to comprehend growing daffodils on such a large scale as in the photo...presume it (the photo) is one of yours, cbw and that they still grow them like that ..although not as I think you did discuss that in an earlier post.

Funny cos when I was little I grew up on a farm where I think my Dad grew flowers at one stage..gladiolis I think it was! (Dame Edna Everages favorite)!


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

BHE - It's only wrong if you get caught. (I wondered the same about that sweet and sour soil, but that's what she wrote.)

Annie - Actually the plants in this picture are soybeans, BUT when the daffodils bloom, the field is a carpet of yellow. Our fields are not as big as this one, but they're still very beautiful. In just a few weeks I"ll be able to share some photos of them.

Folks, there's still time left to vote for the contest. Right now, we have a very, very close race, so every vote counts!

mmm said...