THE ANNUAL daffodil show of the Washington Daffodil Society ends its two-day stand today at the National Arboretum administration building (24th and R Streets NE, near New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road).
The hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be, as usual, an endless number of classes of daffodils, all of great interest to daffodil nuts, but which need not concern the general viewer who will be content to admire the flowers.
This year we may expect strong entries in the yellow trumpets, the cyclamineus hybrids and the early yellows with red cups.
It always amazes me that no matter when the show occurs (the date is variable, so is the weather) some gardeners manage to show daffodils that are weeks earlier or weeks later than everybody else.
The show is too early this year, but this merely means we shall see more than the usual number of early sorts, and I am told the commercial growers of the West Coast will exhibit a number of their novelties, and many floral arrangemants of daffodils will be seen.
These flower arrangements give pleasure to many people.
My own view is that daffodils look best in clear glass parfait cups or wine glasses or water glases. I get nervous and unhappy if I cannot see every bloom fully, and therefore the floral arrangements are to me somewhat like the great trucks of our highways - necessary, no doubt, but sometimes lacking in grace.
In the garden one does not have to have endless daffodils, but how any garderner can manage without a few clumps I do not know.
On the first day a week or so ago I was pleased with my own early daffodils, unremarkable though they are. There were 92 blooms out on a little patch of the smallish yellow "February Gold," and a few feet in front of them were 25 or so of the very small-flowered "Teto a Tete," blooming on two-inch stems. These quickly lengthen to perhaps seven inches.
Across the walk "Beryl" was not yet in bloom - many decades old and the blooms lacking in substance and also prone to fade their soft yellow to bleached cream and their orange cups to somewhat burned to yellow - but a great favorite of mine. The little early yellow trumpet "Little Gem" and the early bicolor trumpet "Little Beauty" were beginning to fade off after 10 days or so of bloom. They are the size of large lima beans.
Sprinkled here and there, in a space the size of large rug, are oddments that give me much delight. Now (April 3) the first blue anemones are bloom, and several thickish clumps of the gentian-blue Scilla sibirica.
The crocuses are pretty much past, but here and there are tufts of "Whitewell Purple," a reddish violet with lighter center, and numerous late strays of the garden of Corcus chrysanthus in yellow, white, pale blue, plus the fiery yellow-orange of C. ancyrensis.
Also on hand are the deepest clearest blue forms of Iris reticulata hybrids, which cost less than a postage stamp, and which represent all that is beautiful in this world in the week they are in bloom.
The pale-blue Scilla tubergeniana, almost white, tufts up nicely and behaves itself well in gardens, returning faithfully each year, and making a pretty foil to anything near it.
The witch hazel is passing after three weeks of tawny orange bloom (a hybrids of the Chinese and Japanese witch hazels) and I am annoyed at its slow growth. On the other hand a vidurnum, V. juddii, is growing clusters of waxy white flowers flushed with pink, and perfumed of cloves and vanilla mixed, will be open in a fewdays.
The winter aconites do not like me much, but I have sometimes planted them in other places and had them settle in immdiately, offering their gold half-dollars in January in most shady places.
A stray snowdrop or two remains in bloom. What excitement they bring in their two weeks of bloom.
This time of year the thermometer can range over a 60-degree span in a matter of a day or so. There is no point fainting dead away if it drops to 28 one night and two days later reaches 88.
I have given up rage, more or less, when daffodils are stewed in damp heat, and I take it in stride when ice snaps their stems. Year after year there are disasters of one sort or another and it has finally dawned on me that horror is as reliable as anything in the garden.
So is beauty of the most flawless balance.
I used to think, years ago when I first grew daffodils, how fine it would be to have a quiet springtime with temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s, with sun but not too much sun, and good moist air. In such conditions, especially in deep peaty soil, daffodils grew to vast size and last forever, and their colors are radiant and appear to be lighted from inside, and the petals are like satin.
But now I prefer our own spring - the only one we have - with its upheavals. Daffodils do not last so long, and are not so large nor the colors and substance so fine, but I doubt there is anything nearer paradise than one of our quite warm spring days (the shirt may as well come off) with everything in the daffodil department) bursting at the seams, and the sky an ooversized turquoise and the mockingbirds going berseck on general principles.
That little plum tree with flowers like expanded pink asprin tablets, Prunus blirrieana, comes several days after the forsythia opens, and the peaches (no flowering tree is any more beautiful than an ordinary peach, though within a few days we will all be tempted once again to plant those double-flowered red peaches, requiring several days to regain our judgement that plain peaches are just as beautiful) and pears (one of the few things I really regret about life is the absence of a pear tree in the garden, and I am one of those who greatly like the smell of its blooms) - all these wonderful things are upon us.
You will recall that weeks ago I announced spring would come. Nobody believed it. Faith consists largely experience.