In our coastal Southeast Georgia, the daffodils and jonquils are already pushing slim, straight blades of green through the soil. A classic harbinger of Spring, bright yellow daffodils can also be found in shades of white, orange, apricot, pink and cream. The daffodil has large single blooms with flat, strap like leaves. Jonquils are smaller and blooms are clustered. The leaves are rounded with pointed tips. Folks use the names interchangeably (even gardeners do!) but it’s not wrong to call them all “narcissus”.
Native to Europe and North Africa, the narcissus’ origin was nevertheless explained in more poetic terms through Greek mythology, the most common by Ovid, a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. In his narrative, Ovid tells us the nymph Echo fell in love with Narcissus, a youth of extraordinary beauty, but Narcissus scorned her. She grieved unconsolably until nothing was left but her voice. Narcissus had scorned many other suitors as well, both male and female, thinking himself too beautiful for them. But he met his demise one day when he saw his reflection in a pool and fell in love with it, not realizing that it was his own reflection. However, each time he bent down to kiss it, it disappeared. Not wanting to leave his new found love, he eventually died of thirst and on that spot appeared the narcissus flower.
The daffodil is the flower for March. To have daffodils in your garden takes a little pre planning, but they are among the easiest bulbs to grow. Guidelines for growing daffodils include visiting botanical gardens in the spring to identify varieties you’d like. Bulbs are available to purchase in early fall at your local garden centers. Or you can send for catalogs in late March or April. Order your bulbs in April, May, or June and growers will ship the bulbs to you in early fall, typically September. Plant the bulbs when grounds have cooled, in some climates September and for warmer climates in November. In flower lore the daffodil means unequaled love; the sun is always shining whenever your significant other is around. The other March flower is the jonquil, which signifies desire for affection returned. It can also be used to convey sympathy.