I’ve never been much of a gardener, the occasional rub across the lawn with a mower being the limit of my horticultural attentions. I’ve watched my brother’s orchard (an orchard!!) of rare plum, apple and other fruit trees gradually grow with disbelieving envy. But then, two things have happened that have touched my sense of mortality, and therefore stirred some interest in plant life: my stealthy creep into middle-age, and having kids.
The good news is that kids supply plenty of cheap gardening labour, even if they have to heavily supervised. And the constant pressure to do something with kids, to show them that life is a fulsome cavalcade of exciting activities and opportunity, eventfully drove J-Bud and I out to our scruffy back yard.
The plant that seemed to supply the best work:joy ratio is the daffodil: bulbs are fairly straightforward to plant; they trumpet out of the soil early enough in the spring to be a stirring event in themselves; and they are fantastic to behold in their yellow glory. Their Cymric connections is an added bonus. And their botanical name is narcissus: what more could the self-absorbed gardener require?
So, in early November, J-Digga and I picked up the trowel and put on our gloves and began our botanic adventure.
He really enjoyed the planting, and I managed to keep my desire to maintain absolute order in order, so I had fun too. He helped drop the bulbs in the little holes I dug, and had a corner of the bed himself to insert them as he wished. And then, we had to wait.
It was January before there was much happening. One particular plantling outstripped the others and struck very quickly, but closer inspection revealed there were plenty on the way. Our back-patch doesn’t get a huge amount of sunlight, so it was likely they’d be slow to emerge, but emerging they were. J-Patch was interested and quite focused by his three-year-old standards and I fostered an inordinate amount of pride and delight. My one regret (which is a very low number by my forlorn standards) is that I followed the instructions on the bag and spaced the bulbs out, as I later noticed all the cherubs waving about in clumps in the park. Although, that could be down to the fact they propagate by division, so the advice was probably sound. It’s just that impatience again.
Every time I look down out of the kitchen, I feel a child-like mixture of pleasure and impatience: a tiny version of parenthood with immediate returns. (Maybe this is what hamster fathers feel like.) The daffs in the park are beginning to trumpet out, flashing yellow and cheerful, but ours are still stubborn and sun-starved. It’s a little unfair of me to expect them to share their sunny delights when they get so little light themselves, but no one said the relationship between humanity and nature was a fair one. In the last few days, the chlorocitric parts have developed, so it can’t be long until the petals push their way out.
I’ll send an update when there’s some more petal action. My impatience aside, it’s been great to watch J-Bulb’s interest grow alongside the plants. The hope is that he’ll be more interested, that working in the garden will be more normalised for him, just as he enjoys joining in with cooking, but even if that doesn’t come off, the reserve hope is some dancing, custardy delights will be making their presence felt the next few springs. Maybe they’ll even arrive for St David’s Day next year, or for our own Daffodil’s first birthday.
That would be joy upon joy.