The first daffodils began opening this week at pbmGarden. Their appearance reminded me of something I recorded a few years back, so the following is adapted from a previous post (Daffodils. February 15, 2013. https://pbmgarden.blog/2013/02/15/daffodils/)
I grew up inside a small town in the rural south, surrounded by fields of cotton, tobacco, corn and soybeans. Driving away from town with my family to visit relatives on Sundays, riding past these fields, nearly every house I would see for miles and miles at this time of year had a clump or two of dancing yellow daffodils, announcing spring.
As one would expect time has altered this bucolic landscape. Driving in the countryside nowadays past these old homesites, there is evidence of past lives. With owners having died out, many of these old homesteads now sit abandoned. Heirs perhaps found jobs elsewhere and live too far away to maintain the homes, yet they keep memories alive by holding onto the property. Or perhaps they await better offers from the developers.
Regardless, often the land sits idle. Even if the buildings are long gone, there almost always remains a towering oak tree beside where the house once stood, and nearby, a patch of daffodils.
One spring along a familiar stretch of road that my husband and I had travelled for many years, I pointed out to him just such an old homesite.
I had never known who once had lived there, but the cheerful daffodils blooming near the old drive were a sight I knew to expect and to watch for.
Viewed from a car window those flowers had greeted me annually for decades, as they must have welcomed home the family that once inhabited the property. I haven’t travelled that road in a while, but that season I was not disappointed.
Intrigued, my husband wrote this poem.
Within this clearing rife with weeds,
No homely headstones stand askew,
But daffodils in patches tell
That here once worked a hand, a heart,
And there once stood a house, a home.
No headstones set this ground apart,
But daffodils in patches tell
Of heart and home as sure as bones.
(DVM, v.G, April 2007)
What flowers do you notice as markers of past existence?
Very timely, thank you as I picked a few daffodils yesterday. Love the poem, tell D
Lovely for you. Didn’t think you grew daffodils but glad you have some. I’ll tell him! Thanks!
they don’t grow very well, but I love them. Sadly there seem to be a lot less this year.
A beautiful post and poem….I see daffs in fields and know there once stood a house….not a whisper of daffs here….not even their foliage peeping up and we have had 2 days of temps in low 70s….they must know winter is coming back!
I fear our winter will return also Donna, but for the rest of the week we can enjoy being outdoors.
There was a little house surrounded by businesses that I would pass by on a six lane road. The owners had a big vegetable garden under the power lines in the empty lot next door. They also had a large bed of daffodils in the front yard. Daffodils are very difficult to grow here, but they would come up every Spring. One year the vegetable garden was not planted and later the house was sold. All of the yard is now mowed and I often wonder when I pass by, if the daffodil bulbs are still alive under the ground.
Oh, that tugs at my heart a bit. I hope someone uncovers and appreciates the daffodils.
A lovely poem Susie, and pretty pictures too. We have got more snow and I am imoatient for flowers, so seeing yours is cheering. 🙂 I love seeing wild flowers in spring most, but a patch of snowdrops is up in the woods near us… possibly put there when someone planted some walnut trees there too, or maybe some bulbs landed in someone’s compost which was deposited there! 🙂
Thanks Cathy (I’ll tell the poet)! Sorry to hear you’re dealing with more snow. Snowdrops, now that sounds lovely. I always associate Hepatica with you in springtime, perhaps I first saw it on your blog. Now I know a spot in town to watch for it but when I checked this week they were not visible.
I saw the first Hepatica just beginning to open today! 😀
What a wonderful poem, Susie! Your husband is very talented. I spotted my first daffodil this morning (as I was out checking what mischief the raccoons had gotten into while I was sleeping) but mine was a pale thing, not the sunny presence of those you captured in your photos. It’s nice to realize that nature will continue to produce beauty even when those who once tended a space are gone.
Thanks Kris, I’ll pass along your kind words to the poet! Darn those raccoons. I like the fancy types of daffodils and do have a few others opening now, but those basic trumpet yellows can’t be beat for reliability. You’ve left gardens behind, as have I. Perhaps daffodils would be the one thing people can recognize and appreciate.
I enjoyed the poem and remember those daffodils as well. My grandparents were peach farmers in South Georgia and my great grandmother was an excellent gardener. My bulb association with old homesteads is Milk and Wine Lilies (Crinums) and Surprise Lilies (red Lycoris) some old ladies call them Naked Ladies and then giggle. Probably King Alfred Daffodils , too. I was chatting with Chloris this week about the age of her Snowdrop carpet – 100 she thinks. Amazing.
Thanks for sharing your memories. Now I remember spider lilies (Surprise or Naked Ladies as you refer to them) but I never noticed if my relatives and neighbors were growing crinums. I learned about them only when we moved to this neighborhood in 2001. A young neighbor who was a horticulturalist added them to her garden as soon as she moved in and they were lovely. I love that Chloris’s snowdrops have such a history. That’s amazing.
In the 70s it was thought the Crinums weren’t hardy in Atlanta. I think they were passalongs further south. Have you read Felder Rushing’s book?
Pardon me for being nosey Queen. Of what book are you referring? I am always on the lookout for a good read.
I am surprised you haven’t read this, Flower. Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing, 1993 UNC Press. I think you would enjoy it.
Thanks. I can’ t believe I don’ t have it.
I don’t know Rushing’s book. Will have to check it out. Thanks.
Lovely words and photos. Up in NH, I would more likely find perennials still standing tall – phlox or daisies maybe. 🙂
Thanks Judy. That’s nice to think of those phlox or daisies standing up, waiting for another family to love them. I wondered if up north it might be peonies.
Yes, peonies too.
My driveway wonders through woodlands. As we round the last curve, there are daffodils high on a hill overlooking the river. This is where a old house and store were decades ago. I love to ponder on the person who planted those daffodils. I am sure she stood up to stretch her back and watch the river flow by. Those flowers connect us through time.
That’s a lovely picture you’ve painted. Thanks.
This post really touched me and I thank you. My Daddy planted daffodils through out the little town we lived in. Daffodils are dear to my heart.
Thank you and especially for the poem.
Glad you enjoyed the poem Jane. Daffodils seem to be cherished with good reason by us all.
An excellent post! Now I’m imagining all the beautiful daffodils that you describe, bobbing their heads around those old homesteads. I love Daffodils–because they’re so pretty and because the rabbits don’t eat them … and for so many other reasons! The flowering plant that brings back the most vivid memories of my childhood is the blooming Lilac … ah, the scent is unequaled!
Yes Beth, thank goodness the deer don’t like daffodils either. I guess we’re too far south for lilacs to do very well. People who move here from up north always miss their lilacs.
Daffodils are in bloom here too, a whole month early. It amazes me how tough and persistent they are.
It’s fun to see daffodils brighten up the town and countryside. Some of my flowers are 2-3 weeks late, but the daffodils seem about on schedule here. You’re a bit south I think. Happy gardening. This is a wonderful time of year.
The purest of yellows, like the yolk of a free range egg!
They are amazing in color Malc. I have planted other types of daffodils, but these yellow are the strongest.
A daffodil legacy! Sweet!
There are a couple of spots along the road into town where I’ve watched daffodils return for decades, surviving the construction of whole communities somehow, and carrying on each spring.
How nice, but sad.
The daffodils I grew up with, besides those my mother grew at home, grew in rows in a field near the beach in Montara. I thought that it was odd that they were in rows. There were once grown for cut flowers, but had been abandoned decades earlier. If you know Diego Rivera, the daffodils grew in the same flower fields that he painted pictures of.
I do know Diego Rivera but thanks for bringing attention to his daffodils. The rows in Montara must have been a fabulous sight.
They were, but sadly (and weirdly) they were killed to build a home on the site. The home is one of the cheaply outfitted monster homes set up on the prominent high spot, but occupies less than a quarter acre. I can not imagine why all the daffodils were killed in the rest of the field acreage. They were not just plowed under. They were KILLED completely, as if someone really hates them or is allergic to them. I think that someone who hates daffodils that much, or is that allergic to them, should not build their house in a daffodil field.
Such a shame and so odd. Never have I known anyone who wouldn’t love and cherish daffodils like that.
I worked at a home in Milpitas where a nice grove of coast live oaks was cut down to clear the parcel. After the home was built, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on moving mature oaks into the same spot where the bigger and more mature oaks had been cut down. The new oaks never did well. They do not like to be moved. Many died.