Spring is my favorite time of year. I love the sense of renewal that comes after months of dormancy. Bright colors just seem to pop up, from the green grass to clear blue skies.
Photography by Mark Fonville
[dropcap]It’s[/dropcap] no secret, I have an affinity for daffodils; their trumpet shape just seems to announce the arrival of a new season. In fact, we have more than 300,000 of these beautiful bulbs planted at the Garden Home Retreat for a sea of color that ranges from cream to a deep, bright sunshine yellow.
Daffodils are a great cut flower for decorating. These bulbs lend a festive, yet casual, feel to a spring tablescape. One of my favorite ways to set the mood for a luncheon is to place a posy of daffodils in simple vases along the length of the table. Keep the stems short so guests can easily see each other across the table and don’t strain trying to talk over or around the flowers.
The concept of the garden home is simple — bring the outdoors inside, and let the indoors extend outside. I enjoy demonstrating this concept when I decorate for guests. A great way to bring the outdoors inside is to create a chandelier of daffodils. I use a moss-lined hanging basket and fill it with small jars of cut stems from the field. I then round out the chandelier with grape vine and other natural materials.
When I open my home for entertaining, it’s about more than sharing a delicious meal with family and friends — I like to share what we’ve grown at the Garden Home Retreat. If you plant numerous bulbs, share the bounty with your guests. Give your guests a special favor to remind them of the day, like a small terra-cotta pot filled with cut stems from your garden. You may also consider including a recipe from the day’s menu. For an extra special touch, stamp each guest’s first initial on the pot.
The sap from daffodils has the reputation as a flower killer, but with proper care they can be used in a mixed-flower arrangement. Arrange the flowers, leaving out the daffodils. Soak cut daffodil stems in a mixture of water and floral food for about six hours. Remove the stems from the solution and add them to the other flowers.
Care After Blooming
As the weather warms and spring starts to give way to summer, you want to make sure to take care of the flowers so they’ll make a healthy return next year. Be sure to deadhead as the flowers start to fade. Leave the remaining foliage for a minimum of six weeks; apply a low-nitrogen, high-potash fertilizer so the bulbs can recharge to bloom again the following year.
Plant daffodil bulbs in the autumn, after the ground starts to cool. These flowers prefer full sun, but a little afternoon shade is good for varieties that bloom in shades of orange or red to keep the color vibrant. Bulbs will tolerate most soils, but they prefer well-drained soils.
Plant early-, mid- and late-blooming varieties to extend the blooming season and to keep the color popping.
If you struggle with pests in the garden — including deer, rabbits or squirrels — plant bulbs in those trouble spots. Rodents find these bulbs unappetizing and don’t like the taste.
Daffodils will produce more bulbs over time. Lift and divide when clumps become large and the flowering grows sparse. The best time to divide and move bulbs is when foliage has withered. Lift bulbs with a digging fork or spade, then replant immediately at the same depth, and water well.
If a few blooms in your garden don’t satisfy your daffodil desire, there are several festivals around the state swimming in a sea of yellow trumpets.
Wye Mountain: Located about 30 miles northwest of Little Rock. There’s not a formal festival; people simply come from all around the area to snap photos amongst the flowers and to buy bundles of the blooms. There isn’t a set date, either. Folks just seem to know to head to the mountain in early to mid-March. Log on to wyemountain.net.
Camden Daffodil Festival: Held March 6 and 7, this is one of the earliest daffodil festivals in the country. The festival committee invites you to see millions of daffodils spread across many acres. Log on to camdendaffodilfestival.com.
Garvan Woodland Gardens Daffodil Days: Enjoy hundreds of thousands of daffodils in various shades of yellow and white. Blooms are concentrated on the Three Sisters of Amity Daffodil Hill and the Trapp Mountain Overlook. Log on to garvangardens.org for approximate dates.
Historic Washington State Park Jonquil Festival: Create memories and celebrate this annual tradition, held March 20 through 22. The festival heralds the arrival of spring in southwest Arkansas with thousands of jonquils. Log on to historicwashingtonstatepark.com.