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The skies are dreary and grey again, and rain is imminent, but yesterday was a perfect spring day.  The sun was shining, and our daffodils are starting to bloom.  Last fall we were confronted with the newly denuded hillside that is to become the orchard.  Not wishing to stare at bare dirt until the fruit trees were planted, I set out to plant 150 Dutch Master daffodils…and all through winter, remained hopeful that I’d see them in the spring.

We planted 150 Dutch Master daffodil bulbs across the orchard slope in October 2009

I tucked them into the soil for winter, wondering if I’d ever see them again.  I’ve never planted daffodils here before, and although when happy where they are they need little care, if planted in heavy soils, subject to excessive rains, or relocated by wildlife, they may simply disappear.

In January though, we began to see signs of life.  Maybe they’d bloom after all?

In January the bulbs started to sprout

They did!  They are!  Can you tell I’m excited?

 

In early February, the buds appeared...(click images to enlarge)

 

...and slowly the flowers began to open

I realize that spring is still three weeks away, but yesterday, with daffodils dancing in the sunshine, it already felt like spring.

The first daffodils are blooming on the orchard slope

Dutch Master is a classic yellow trumpet daffodil.  I love all daffodils, but I’m particularly fond of the ‘classic-look’ yellow trumpet varieties.

The beautiful yellow trumpet of Dutch Master

Dutch Master is usually marketed as a ‘King Alfred’ type.  Be aware that Dutch Master is a common garden variety ‘improved daffodil’, easily obtained through catalogs and garden centers, but that the true King Alfred daffodil is an heirloom variety, and less easily obtained.  However, I don’t feel that detracts in any way from the beauty of the Dutch Master, and with as much ground to cover as we have here, Dutch Master is proving to be a beautiful, and economical alternative.

 

Dutch Master is categorized as an 'improved' King Alfred-type daffodil

Dutch Master flowers are very large, with petals curving slightly forward, and a large trumpet (corona) that is as long, or longer than the petals.

 

The trumpet of Dutch Master is at least as long as the petals

Our hope is that year over year these bulbs will slowly naturalize across the orchard slope, and no doubt we’ll add some additional varieties in time, if only to extend the bloom period.

 

Dutch Master Daffodil

 

Dutch Master Daffodil

 

Dutch Master Daffodil

Who Was Narcissus?

Gardeners often refer to daffodils by their genus name, Narcissus, but do you know how this flower aquired that name? The name Narcissus (or Narkissos) is from a Greek myth.  Narcissus was a Greek hero who was granted exquisite beauty and immortality by the Gods, but with the warning that he would lose his gift if he ever gazed upon his own reflection.  Narcissus by nature was cruel, and rejected the attention lavished on him by those who were attracted to his beauty.  A young wood nymph named Echo saw Narcissus while he was out in the woods hunting deer, and she fell head-over-heels in love.  Narcissus though had great disdain for those who loved him, and rejected her.  Echo was devastated.  She is said to have cried until all that was left was her voice.

 

'Echo and Narcissus' - by John William Waterhouse (1903)

The goddess Nemesis heard of Echo’s rejection, and was outraged.  Nemesis lured Narcissus to the still waters of a small lake, where he gazed upon his own reflection and fell in love…with himself.  The curse of the Gods took hold, and Narcissus simply faded away.  In his place, on the lake shore, a golden flower appeared…and so this golden flower bears his name, Narcissus.