Saturday, 13 April 2019


We're reaching mid-April and the daffodils have finally peaked. I have started to dead-head some withered early blooms. In terms of appearance they aren't my favourite flower but their perfume can be wonderful. Half a century ago they grew in profusion in Gibraltar, mostly at the foot of limestone bluffs high on the rocky slopes. With a gentle breeze the whole of the main town could enjoy the glorious scent of these swathes of Narcissus papyraceus.

Several clumps of daffodils have appeared in our garden, obviously planted by previous occupants. I haven't had the heart to grub them out but some I really don't like. I think some will have to go.
These plants, with their shapeless, muddled blooms, will have to go.
13 April, 2019

Can anything new be said about daffs? Perhaps not, although it is perhaps worth mentioning the curious derivation of the name. In the 16th Century it was simple affodil, and came from the medieval Latin affodilus. So far, so good, but then complications arise. The earlier Latin form, based on a Greek word, was asphodelus. But the Asphodel, a flower which is very familiar to anyone rambling in the Mediterranean region, is a rather different plant, belonging to the Lily Family, whereas the daffodil is in the Amaryllis Family. The other puzzle concerns the letter 'd'.  Perhaps here the answer in more straightforward: the Netherlands has for some centuries been an important source of bulbs, and the Dutch referred to the plant as de affodil.
A better flower altogether. The contents of this pot will be transferred
 to the garden later. 13 April, 2019

What of the rather twee term, Daffy-down-dilly? Apparently we have the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne to blame for that. His novel, 'Little Daffydowndilly', written in 1843, became widely read and the term was picked up by A. A. Milne, who wrote a poem, Daffodowndilly:

                           She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
                           She wore her greenest gown:
                           She turned to the south wind
                           And curtsied up and down.
                           She turned to the sunlight
                           And shook her yellow head,
                           And whispered to her neighbour;
                           Winter is dead.

Well, winter certainly is dead and we're well into spring but the weather has been very erratic lately and parts of the English midlands have had sharpish frosts. The daffodils won't care, they're pretty tough because of course daffodils, such as Narcissus obvallaris, are native to the UK. They were once found in Northamptonshire (although here they are probably extinct) and at Foxhill Farm Matt Moser has planted many hundreds of them in woodland and in semi-shade on the farm, giving a glimpse of what once was.
Daffodils make a lovely sight in spring. Foxhill Farm, between Badby
and Daventry


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