"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

The Daffodils are Here! (3 of 4)

From “Hymn to Demeter” by Homer, quoted in Flowers and Their Histories by Alice M. Coats:

“The Narcissus wondrously glittering, a noble sight for all, whether immortal gods or mortal men; from whose root a hundred heads spring forth, and at the fragrant odour thereof all the broad heaven above and all the earth laughed, and the salt wave of the sea.”

From “Narcissus” in Flowers and Their Histories by Alice M. Coats:

“The flower thus praised by the ancient Greeks is believed to have been the Tazetta or bunch-flowered narcissus, which, besides being the most widespread of the genus, is also the one longest associated with man. Centuries before even the time of Homer, flowers of this species were used by the Egyptians in their funeral wreaths, and have been found in tombs, still wonderfully preserved after 3000 years. This was the flower, originally white, which was turned yellow by the touch of Pluto when he captured Persephone sleeping with a wreath of them on her hair; a legend which nicely accounts for the fact that there are yellow ‘polyanthus‘ species closely resembling the white ones….

N. poeticus, the poet’s narcissus, was also known to the (slightly less) ancient Greeks, and was probably the flower ‘whose Beauty they deduced in their wild Way, from the Metamorphosis of a celebrated Youth of the same Name’ — a story fabricated by the later poet, Ovid; both species were mentioned by Theophrastus, about 320 B.C….

Pliny says that the plant was named Narcissus because of the narcotic quality of its scent — ‘of Narce which betokeneth nummednesse or dulnesse of sense, and not of the young boy Narcissus, as poets do feign and fable’….

“The Furies wore narcissus flowers among their tangled locks, and are said to have used them to stupefy those whom they intended to punish. Some lingering wraith of this tradition may account for the belief that the scent of the narcissus is harmful, which persisted at least till the nineteenth century; the scent of the jonquil and the tazetta was particularly distrusted, and in close rooms, was considered ‘extremely disagreeable, if not actually injurious, to delicate persons’. It was said to cause headache, or even madness.”


This is the third of four posts featuring photos of daffodils from Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens, that I took in February. The first post in this series is The Daffodils are Here! (1 of 4), and the second post is The Daffodils are Here! (2 of 4). For this post and the last one, I’m uploading photos of those that (mostly) fall into the tazetta or poeticus variations — some of which produce clusters of flowers on a single stem, all of which have white petals and display miniature orange or yellow (or orange AND yellow) “trumpets” at the centers. These are always my favorite daffodil varieties, and I was surprised just two days ago to see that there are still bunches of batches blooming, despite them having gotten off to an early February start.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Daffodils are Here! (2 of 4)

From “The Song of the Happy Shepherd” by W. B. Yeats in Collected Poems:

I must be gone: there is a grave
Where daffodil and lily wave,
And I would please the hapless faun,
Buried under the sleepy ground,
With mirthful songs before the dawn.
His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
Walking ghostly in the dew,
Pierced by my glad singing through,
My songs of old earth’s dreamy youth….

From Flowers and Their Histories by Alice M. Coats:

“The numerous wild species of narcissus are mostly centred about the Mediterranean, the great majority being indigenous to the Iberian peninsula, which is regarded as the centre of distribution of the genus. They may be divided for convenience into half a dozen major and some minor sections: the Ajax group, of daffodils with long trumpets; the short-cupped Poeticus group; the bunch-flowered Tazettas; the Incomparabilis, intermediate between Ajax and Poeticus; the Poetaz, between Poeticus and Tazetta; the Jonquils, and the various small rock-garden species such as triandrus and bulbocodium. Double forms occur in all these groups (except, perhaps, the last) and are in many cases of great antiquity….

“Our own wild daffodil or Lent Lily belongs to the first group, and was once so plentiful near London, that in 1581 the market-women of Cheapside were reported to sell the flowers in the greatest abundance, and all the shops were bright with them.”


This is the second of four posts featuring photos of daffodils from Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens, that I took in February. The first post in this series is The Daffodils are Here! (1 of 4).

I first thought that the unusual flowers in the last six images might be a tulip variety — but after some digging around on the internet, I concluded (hopefully accurately) that it was a daffodil known both as Derwydd daffodil or Thomas’ virescent daffodil. This uncommon variant is a form of double daffodil — a daffodil that produces multiple rows of overlapping and clustered flower petals — and often features green, rather than yellow, as a dominant color.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Daffodils are Here! (1 of 4)

From “Lent Lily” by A. E. Housman in The RHS Book of Flower Poetry and Prose by the Royal Horticultural Society:

’Tis spring; come out to ramble
The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found….

Bring baskets now, and sally
Upon the spring’s array,
And bear from hill and valley
The daffodil away….

From Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“There are some 70 species (and 27,000 cultivars) in the genus of the quintessential spring flower, whose centre of diversity is the mountains of the Iberian peninsula and the mountains just across the water in the Maghreb. One species, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, has a wide distribution in western Europe; N. poeticus (pheasant’s eyes) and several related species are found across the regions immediately north of the Mediterranean. The heavily fragrant white N. tazetta is found further eastwards around the Mediterranean into Iran; long traded on the Silk Road, it got as far as Japan centuries ago and has naturalised there….

“As with tulips and lilies, there is no sepal/petal distinction; what are commonly called petals are referred to technically as perianth segments. The daffodil cup (i.e., the trumpet), however, is a structure that has evolved independently and is unique to daffodils….

“Daffodils reappear faithfully every year, not just in gardens but wherever they may have been dumped decades ago — for these are true clonal perennials…. In the wild they are plants of light woodland, and open, but not unduly exposed, country….”


The daffodils are here! Of course, they’re always here in March, but word on the street (that is, on the internet) has it that they bloomed earlier than usual this year — several weeks early, in mid-February — and I took most of these photos on February 22. I wasn’t actually daffodil-hunting that day — not really expecting any except those few that sneak into view early most years — and was surprised at how many were in bloom in the gardens, and how many had already past their blooming stage to look a bit raggedy around the edges. And as you can see in the third batch below, some were so early that they put their color out among gray sagebrush branches that hadn’t turned back to green yet.

Daffodil season may have started earlier than usual, yet it’s still going on. I originally had enough photos for three blog posts, but came across several fresh batches just a couple of days ago and — since I hadn’t yet posted any of the photos, decided to process them up and plan four posts instead of three. Two of the varieties mentioned in the Garden Flora quote above — N. poeticus and N. tazetta — will appear in the last two posts. The widely-dispersed and wildly common N.pseudonarcissus — with its pale yellow leaves and saturated yellow trumpet — are featured in this post, among the images in the middle galleries and through to the end.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

A Collection of Daffodils (4 of 4)

From “To Daffodils” by Robert Herrick in The RHS Book of Garden Verse by the Royal Horticultural Society:

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.

As a fitting marker for the last of this year’s series of daffodil photos, I found a poem (see up top) with the end of Daffodil Season as its theme. I may find a few more blooms around town — and if I do, I’ll ask them to pose for me — but as the pre-summer heat has started moving in (already!), they are likely “ne’er to be found again” as Herrick says in his poem… at least, not until next year.

This is the fourth of four posts featuring my 2022 daffodil photos. The previous posts are:

A Collection of Daffodils (1 of 4);

A Collection of Daffodils (2 of 4);

A Collection of Daffodils (3 of 4).

Next up: camellia or cherry blossoms or dogwoods or irises or plum blossoms or tulips or… I haven’t decided yet!


Thanks for taking a look!

A Collection of Daffodils (3 of 4)

From Daffodil: The Remarkable Story of the World’s Most Popular Spring Flower by Noel Kingsbury and Jo Whitworth:

“Daffodils have been a symbol of spring and rebirth in many cultures, not just because that is when they flower, but because of their persistence in coming back every year….

“As a spring flower, it is no surprise that daffodils are seen as a symbol of rebirth and new life in many different cultures. In China what are called paperwhites in English (various forms of
Narcissus papyraceus) are used to celebrate Spring Festival (New Year), the most important Chinese festival, around late January or early February. Traditionally, bulbs are grown without soil, set out on pebbles in shallow plates with their roots growing down into water in the bottom of the plate….

“In western and central Europe, daffodils are often used to adorn churches as part of celebrations of spring and the resurrection of Christ. In Medieval Christian art, the flower is used as a symbol of paradise, and triumph over death; it is often associated with the Virgin Mary. In the Muslim Middle East it may, somewhat paradoxically, be seen as a symbol of death and planted on graves, because its growth in spring reminds people of the life to come. In classical Arabic poetry, Poeticus daffodils are seen as having ‘eyes’ and therefore of being the eyes of the garden as well as being symbols of love, longing, and desire….”

This is the third of four posts featuring my photographs of this spring’s daffodils. The first post is A Collection of Daffodils (1 of 4); and the second post is A Collection of Daffodils (2 of 4).

Thanks for taking a look!