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, “The Daffodils”
Wordsworth is not the only one whose heart dances with daffodils. I fell in love with fall bulbs this spring when the tulips sprung out from my lawn in purple and red and yellow. They are still there, lurking in the ground and I hopefully see them again come spring. But this year, I planted daffodils – one hundred bulbs which should turn, magically, into those dancing white and yellow flowers.
Stacked in my garage were the boxes of bulbs. Daffodils, Narcissus, Hyacinths, Muscari, Irises of all kinds – Dutch iris, Bearded iris and Siberian iris and of course, the tulips. They had waited patiently through all summer, and survived the cold winter too, and it seemed cruel to ask them to sit out through another year. They had to be planted this Fall.
Planting in the perennial bed is so much easier than what we did last year – plant the tulips right in the lawn bordering the driveway. R and I cut tens of little holes in the lawn and it was really time consuming and not much fun. We ended up planting most of the tulips, but gave up on all the other bulbs. But all that effort was forgotten when we saw the tulips shoot up from the lawn, one by one.
In our misguided enthusiasm and certain ignorance, we had planted some of the tulips in a ring around the large electrical box in the yard. We somehow thought these tulips would hide that monstrosity. It didn’t strike us then, that tulip plants are all flowers and hardly any leaves. You can easily mistake a tulip plant for a cut flower, with its long, single stem decorated with a few leaves and a single large, bright flower. The lawn looked like someone had buried vases of cut flowers in the ground.
When the tulips came out, even the ugly box in the background could not do much to diminish their raw beauty. They weren’t tall enough or bushy enough to hide that box, but they formed a beautiful necklace around it, in pink and yellow and red, and the beautiful purple tulip that was my favorite.
Meanwhile, the tulips planted in the flower bed did their best to bring some color to the otherwise drab looking bed that was filled with buried perennials still waking from their winter sleep, which hadn’t even started putting out leaves or shoots. This year, the bushy daylilies have grown bigger and the mulch is fresher, so it should be even more beautiful if the tulips flower again.
This year, the backyard perennial bed is a big savior. In every clear patch of brown dirt, I saw a home for a bunch of yellow daffodils, or paperwhite narcissus, or alliums or hyacinths. I planted bulbs in all the spaces between plants- most of my perennials will not start growing until late spring, while the bulbs will be up and flowering in early spring and start fading out by summer. That’s the plan, anyway.
I don’t like planting bulbs in straight lines, although some of this spring’s tulips did end up looking like they were going to march down to the road. I planted the daffodils in circles – eight of them per circle, seven in the circumference and one in the center, as if they were playing a game of dodge ball. If they stop playing games and come up in spring, I should get a bright swathe of color.
I have finished planting most of the bulbs. There are still a few laggards, like the Narcissus that are probably busy looking at their own reflections, but these too will go into the ground soon.
All that is left to do now, is to wait through the long winter and hope that when spring comes, my daffodils will dance.