Is there anything as cheerful as a daffodil in spring? As the weather turns cold and blustery, I’m on my knees looking forward to spring as I plant daffodils and narcissus in our backyard.
Vic and I began our backyard makeover in earnest last January when we had a misshapen magnolia dug out. That was the last of the original trees in our backyard planted by the original homeowner over 30 years ago. All but the magnolia had become diseased and were long gone. While the magnolia had pretty blooms, it constantly dropped big leaves that were hard to compost, and it interfered with our plan of converting the backyard to food production. My citrus trees were too shaded to produce fruit and growing veggies in the shade of the magnolia was difficult as well. So out it went.
In place of the magnolia tree and an oblong herb garden, I installed three raised beds for veggies and reduced the size of the herb garden to a small circle. I’ve finished resetting the pavers and am now planting both single and double paperwhites from bulbs I salvaged, as well as some new Geranium Daffodils and Tahiti Daffodils.
In reading about narcissus and daffodils, I learned that narcissus is an older word that is being supplanted by daffodil for the common name. But the Latin genus name remains Narcissus, so I figure we can call them by either name.
I also learned that daffodil bulbs contain calcium oxalate, a poison that is found in the sap of daffodil leaves and that can cause skin rashes. What is it with plants and oxalates, anyway? Seems that everything I’ve written about lately has oxalic acid in it (rhubarb, sorrel, and even a tad in chard).
Apparently some people have confused daffodil bulbs with onions and eaten them by mistake. Not a good idea. Narcissus/daffodil bulbs also contain lycorine, a poison. Don’t confuse lycorine (poison) with lycopene (a good compound found in tomatoes that may help prevent macular degeneration, a cause of blindness). Lycorine is a toxic alkaloid that is found in narcissus bulbs as well as the bush lily (Clivia miniata).
It’s hard to believe that anything that pretty can be so hazardous. I’m planting the narcissus bulbs where I’m not likely to confuse them with food, and plan to just enjoy their beauty next spring. With roses, irises, Nemesia, nasturtiums, and allysum blooming under our fruit trees (peaches, nectarines, apricot, plum, apples, and citrus), I’m looking forward to a spectacular spring in our backyard.
For more information on planting and care of narcissus and daffodils, see http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-11.pdf/.