Over on Musings of a Kentucky Gardener, fellow blotanist Historiana wrote a lyrical post about rescuing old plants in general and, in particular, a primitive daffodil she found along a back-road fencerow about ten years ago. Now it’s growing in her garden. Here’s a link to the post: Primitive Daffodil Mystery.
The flowers of this daffodil are a twisted, ruffled mass of greenish-yellow petals; the buds look more like amaryllis or chive than daffodil because they’re jammed full of petals. I was fascinated by the pictures she posted and, of course, began to plot how to get my hands on some crazy-looking, old daffodils of my own. Hmmm, perhaps Historiana would send me some, or B and I could do a little investigative work of our own in Kentucky.
Fast forward to Saturday morning: Our friend Betty rang me up on the telephone and told me that I had to come over and see her daffodils: They were truly shining in the sun. So, after I finished planting and watering in nine blue spruce seedlings (I saved one for Alan in the city), I washed my hands, hustled Dale into the car, and drove over to Betty’s house.
While Dale sniffed and rolled on the greening grass, Betty and I toured her garden, coffee cups in hand, and let the sight of her thousands of daffodils wash over us. One daffodil is a miracle, I think, and a garden full of them is heaven.
We discussed how B loves a later-blooming variety that sends up clusters of very fragrant creamy double flowers. And my particular favorite is the pheasant’s eye daffodil, Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, also a late-bloomer. Each blossom has a beautiful fringe-y red rim around the small corona that is perfect in the way a baby’s fingernails are: It’s hard to fathom something that small being that well formed.
Then Betty showed me a beautiful, old, multi-petaled daffodil that her father rescued from the dooryard of an old abandoned farm many years ago. It looks to me like the slightly-less-insane, northern cousin of Historiana’s find. Beautiful, eh? I whooped when I saw it.
Is this a named variety, or could it be—as Historiana wonders—a mutation of a common daffodil from long ago? And who originally planted it in Washington County, New York, and where did they acquire the bulbs in the years before White Flower Farm and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs? Whatever the answer, the sight of these flowers must have given a lot of pleasure to a farm family tired of winter and ready for warm sun and green grass.