Wordsworth Said It All – Master Gardener Scoop, March 22, 2017

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 dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake,
beneath the trees,
Ten thousand
dancing in the breeze.
The waves beside them danced,
but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not
but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or
in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss
of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with
the Daffodils.

– William Wordsworth 1770-1850

By Leora McTall, Master Gardener

    “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was published in 1807, although it had been 5 years earlier when Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, were walking along the shore of  Lake Ullswater, in the English Lake District.  They were astounded as to the beauty and number of flowers they came upon, resulting in this famous poem.  The Lake District became a tourist area with summer villas, and is still famous for its daffodils today.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of this poem, it was read aloud by 150,000 school children across Britain.

Back home in our Washington, Clinton, Marion, Jefferson County area we can bring the Lake District to our own backyards – just plant more daffodils every Fall (even if we don’t have a lake).

To copy the effect of the “naturalized” daffodils in the poem, toss the bulbs into a grassy area and plant them where they land.  Keep in mind that since it takes 6 weeks for most daffodil foliage to die back, the grass may need mowing sooner.  Do not cut the foliage until it has turned brown, for this is how the bulbs receive their nourishment for next year’s bloom.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus are the wild daffodils planted in Wordsworth’s poem, but any variety would certainly make a statement, and could cause our hearts to dance!  Yes, it is O.K. to feel poetic in our technical, fast-paced world.

On February 12, Master Gardener Janet Klie brought three blooming yellow daffodils to the Master Gardener booth at the Herb Show.   Janet inspired our competitive spirits to check our own gardens and soon we all had daffodil bouquets on our tables.  This launched the 2017 bloom season – 3 weeks early.

We gardeners have learned to plant daffodils that are bred for early bloom and it certainly helps in this friendly competition – kind of like the first tomato.

A few of the early bloomers include Rijnveld’s Early Sensation (earliest here at our Irvington garden); Ice Follies; Dutch Master; Slim Whitman; Honeybird; Trousseau; Professor Einstein to name a few of some 27,000 unique cultivars.

SAVE THE DATE:   Thyme to Garden Club invites you to their annual bulb sale October 21, 2017.

ALSO SAVE THIS DATE:  April 29, 2017 is the Washington County Master Gardener Plant Swap.  Bring a plant, take home a plant — or plants may be purchased for a very minimal amount.