It’s almost March, and although spring is not officially here, warm and sunny weather has made it feel that way in Calistoga the past few weeks.
It also looks like spring with budding trees and bushes, and colorful, blooming flowers.
Last year about this time, the Weekly Calistogan reported on the rare Popcorn Flower, which is only found in certain areas of Calistoga.
This year, we feature a much more common and abundant flower, the cheerful yellow daffodil, one of spring’s earliest bloomers.
Though they grow in shades of white and orange, daffodils are best known for perking up the landscape with their bright bursts of yellow.
Daffodils are found readily throughout Northern California, and there is even a Northern California Daffodil Society (daffodil.org).
According to these experts, gardeners can spend anywhere from $1 to $100 for bulbs, depending on the scarcity of the variety. It flowers from six weeks to six months, depending on which variety it is and where it’s planted. Under favorable growing conditions, the bulbs could last indefinitely. That might explain the dozen or so that pop up each year at the Napa County Fairgrounds, near the Lion’s Club picnic area behind the Speedway.
For all their cheerfulness, however, daffodils are poisonous. Deer won’t eat them, and direct contact with them can cause dermatitis, said Napa UC Master Gardener Jane Callier. She advised wearing gloves when handling them.
The daffodil is in the amaryllis family, and also known by the names narcissus and jonquil, and in mythology symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings, making it a perfect harbinger of spring.
The flowers even inspired one of William Wordsworth’s most famous poems. It’s entitled “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” and is said to have been inspired by an event on April 15, 1802 in which Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy came across a seemingly endless stretch of daffodils. It begins:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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