Daffodils make me happy. I love that they are the first bulbs to poke their sleepy heads from the ground and bloom every year. I see their burst of yellow in an otherwise gray post-winter landscape as a sign of sunny days to come. A sign of the hope and rebirth that comes with springtime. Their subtle sweet smell is almost intoxicating after a season of ice and snow.
I love daffodils.
When I was a kid, we went to a place called Daffodil Hill, in the little town of Volcano, California. Daffodil Hill was just what the name implied–a large hill encased in blooming daffodils. I must admit that my 11 year old brain harbored a little disappointment that the daffodils weren’t rimming the edge of an actual volcano.
No honey, the daffodils are in a town called Volcano, not on an actual volcano.
Although I was disappointed by the absence of molten lava, I was enthralled with the sea of daffodils billowing over the hill. I loved them ever since. Imagine how excited I was when I discovered that our new house has several varieties of daffodils planted in the yard.
It’s always an adventure to see what pops out of the ground in the spring and summer after moving into a new house. Hopefully, the landscape extends beyond weeds and crabgrass. Hopefully. I wasn’t all that concerned, because I considered myself to be a fairly accomplished gardener prior to moving to the 45th parallel.
My strategy was simple:
- Go to the nursery, and buy what I liked.
- Completely ignore zone charts and care & maintenance guides.
- Dig a hole and plop in the plant.
- Water it occasionally and hope that it grows.
It was a simple strategy, and it worked for me. Everything I planted flourished. I had to split plantings nearly every year otherwise they would take over. I was a gardening genius.
That is, until I moved to the 45th parallel. Here Up North, my strategy doesn’t work so well. In fact, it really doesn’t work at all, what will the shortened growing season, all the sandy soil, shade, and deer that eat everything that grows more than 2 inches high. My landscaping in an abomination. Dare I say that I don’t have much landscaping–I have a “yard.” It took us 4 summers of over-seeding to get grass to grow on our sandy lot.
Last summer, we finally achieved respectable grass coverage before the crabgrass took over. Crabgrass, it seems, is an annual plant. Meaning that left unchecked, crabgrass will take over the lawn like a weed, choke out the perennial grass, and then DIE, leaving bare ground. But last summer? We didn’t care because it was green.
Fact: Everything I plant dies within the first week. And if it doesn’t die, it gets eaten by munchy wildlife. I’m about ready to give up the whole institution.
Remember my hugely glorious lavender plant that I bought in hopes of bringing an end to winter? The lavender thrived while I had it inside. It did so well that it became clear that I either had to transplant it to a larger pot, or plant it outside. I chose the latter.
This is three days after I planted the lavender outdoors. Doesn’t get more dead than that.
I am totally convinced that I have a black thumb.
I am also totally convinced of my desperate need of a garden consultation. Perhaps my friends Deb and Kim could help. They live in my neighborhood and their gardens are gorgeous.
While Kat and I live in different states, we do share a parallel, and her garden has become a veritable jungle. I know that it’s possible.
So, I am making an appeal to all of you gardeners out there. How the heck do I keep anything alive in sandy, shaded soil? I use the term soil loosely, because let’s face it, it’s just sand. As in, last summer during one of my feeble attempts at botany, I unearthed a fossilized sea shell. Fer reals.
I’m not being picky here. I’ll take anything green that may flower at some point in time. If I can get it to grow, then I’ll deal with the deer & bunnies slurping it up like a dinner salad, later. But let’s be honest, I don’t have time to “tend” to anything other than my boys and cupcakes, so
no low maintenance is mandatory.
I eagerly await your responses. Until then, I’ll bask in the glory of my daffodils–the one bright spot in my yard–knowing that they thrive only because I had nothing to do with their planting.