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My sister’s path of daffodils, April 2012.

Autumn is a change of scenery, from green to yellow or red, portending winter in whatever form it comes (snow or rain, or sunny albeit milder days) and now is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs in the northern hemisphere. Today I planted forty daffodils and I anticipate bright yellow spring blooms (and hope the deer continue to dislike daffodils).

My neighbor, Laura, came out after I’d finished planting and asked, “how do you know how deep to plant them?” That’s easy, there was a diagram on the package illustrating daffodil bulbs roots down and five inches underground.

Daffodils by William Wordsworth (© The British Library Board / Public Domain)

As in any sort of planting (although autumn planting has a more measured pace than in spring*), there is the digging but also the anticipation and inspiration. In April 1802, William Wordsworth encountered a winding path of blooming daffodils and subsequently composed the poem that begins “I wandered lonely as a cloud…” From daffodils as inspiration, Wordsworth got a poet’s wish, to place a moment of experience into a poem that survives centuries. Unlike Wordsworth’s enduring poem, cut and brought indoors, daffodils in a vase bestow only an ephemeral beauty and fragrance.

My forty daffodil bulbs will never be the “daffodils, path to the corner” that my sister enjoyed last year, and planted the previous autumn (or autumns) but, scattered between young shrubs, the daffodils I planted today will add a cheeriness next April when the ground is still drably carpeted with dry brown pine needles.

Have you planted daffodils, or other spring flowering bulbs? What did you plant?

Daffodils by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


Notes & Sources:

*More planting posts: poetry of planting mania – part 1 and poetry of planting mania – part 2

Daffodil photo and daffodil planting by Cory Eberhart. See Daffodils To The Corner, April 21, 2012.

Facsimile of poem by W. Wordsworth:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Wandered_Lonely_as_a_Cloud