THERE ARE two guaranteed ways to get a crown in heaven, and one is to save a man you greatly dislike from drowning; the other is to handle a Daffodil Society group order for bulbs.
As an honorary member of the local Daffodil Society, or an Hon. Fellow as I think of myself, I took advantage of the early May opportunity to order bulbs at the group rate, and these were ready for pickup last Sunday.
There were only about 50 bulbs in my order, but each one was in a little paper sack, stapled shut (it is ruin if the bulbs fall out of their sacks and get mixed up) and neatly labeled by hand. Some of the little sacks were put into larger sacks labeled "White Collection" or "Pink Collection." Then these were all put together in a larger sack, with my original order stapled to the outside.
The bulbs came from various sources; some are sold only by Mitsch in Oregon, while others I have never seen listed by anybody except Carncairn in Northern Ireland.
One that I ordered, "Beige Beauty," is not widely grown; others like "Aircastle" are famous enough, but you won't find them at the hardware store.
The trick is to join the society in time for the group order; that is by May; an easy way is to visit the April 15-16 free show at the National Arboretum. I notice the fine hand of Marie Bozievich of Bethesda on the labels, but obviously more than one person works on such projects, and all have crowns coming.
If there is anything so exhilarating as a bulb order, I do not know what it is. The little bulb of "Mockingbird" made up for terrible weather.
For years I wanted "Debutante," one of those Irish pinks, so naturally it proved unavailable, but a "Rose Royale" seedling was substituted. One bulb of "Kingscourt" had rotted, but that was the only one, and the society had a drawing by which I got a free "Dew Pond," which was a balm.
Like most daffodil persons, I prefer the small hard bulbs to the huge softer bulbs, though I admit I have never seen any difference in performance. These were all of wonderful quality.
Needless to say, the site chosen last year for the new bulbs is not now available and they will have to go in another bed for their first year. With me, daffodils respond to deep digging (they will grow and bloom without much attention though) and in the years I think of it, they respond well to heavy watering in March, if weather is dry. They are either left alone for years or dug up in June, dried in the shade, and stored in an airy garage for October, or even September, planting. I hope new gardeners will buy a few at garden centers or hardware stores and plant them now, covering the pointed tip of the bulb three or four inches. Different sorts can be added over the years. Usually one bulb of each will, within three years, multiply to form a little clump. If the flowers are not cut, but left to brighten the garden, individual flowers often last two weeks or more.