Saturday, April 27, 2013


On a June 2011 visit to our Idaho farmhouse, I spent 'quality' time digging Austrian Copper rosebushes away from the foundation. These had been planted by Steve's mother, Alice (1912-1998), who had also planted a row of daffodil bulbs under the wide living room window. The daffodils make a stunning show every spring, and their foliage stands until it's mowed into the adjacent lawn.

While digging rose canes, I had naturally dislodged some daffodil bulbs, and though it was not the proper season to dig and separate them, I brought a few home, let them dry throughout the summer, and planted them in the fall without much hope. Idaho daffodils, I believed, would need a cold winter to flower. I was happy to be proven wrong, but still not confident that the bulbs would really naturalize. Maybe they were still feeling the benefit of freezing during the winter of 2010-11.

During the long fring and wring seasons of 2012-13, tall daffodil foliage appeared in our front garden, and by mid April I had to admit that Idaho daffodils had naturalized and were blooming against a backdrop of lavender and white freesias.

As you can see by the bit of brick in the lower left-hand corner of the photo above, I had planted the daffodil bulbs quite close to the edge of our bulb bed. Their drying foliage now stands in a row, sticking through the mulch I've used to cover spent freesias. The bulbs should be easy to find when I'm ready to dig them out in late summer or early fall. Then they will move to a circular space at the foot of our largest lavender tree, and thus the display of naturalized Idaho daffodils will be more graceful in spring 2014 and beyond.

But wait! What if Alice took the daffodil bulbs from SoCal to Idaho sometime in the 1940s or 50s and had naturalized them there in spite of the freezing winter? What if I was bringing them to their home instead of taking them away from it?

Many humans have believed that they 'took dominion' over the vegetable kingdom a long time ago, but plants can still have their secrets and surprises. Rightly so, I think.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License