IT WILL not strain the average gardener's resources to plant a few daffodils where the public at large can see them.
I remember once I lived in a small apartment in Georgetown, which even in those days was congested and if it had not been for a deck, from which you had a nice view of other people's gardens, probably I'd have gone mad.
But in the spring it was wonderful to see a small clump of daffodils outside somebody's wall, and I was always grateful to the gardener who planted them there. This summer I had pleasure from a stray lily bulb that popped up in an alley off one of those streets in American University Park. It was only one plant, an Aurelian hybird, but I enjoyed watching it develop as the season passed.
Now a fellow I know planted cucumbers on his alley fence and sometimes passers-by picked the cucumbers, but he still had plenty. Indeed, he did not really like cucumbers, but liked to see how big he could grow them. They worked well as door stops
There are certain eccentrics in a city who wander about collecting things. Armed with a tote bag, those poor addled souls will snip a twig here, a half-dead rose blossom there. Our screen of camellias, in another city, was regularly visited by two sorts of people: women who worked downtown and who would pick one bloom from the hundreds to brighten their desks at work, and the eccentrics who liked to sneak up on the bushes and pop a flower into a bag.
Neither type did the slightest damage to the general effect.
Just as people do not damage azaleas when they are in bloom, they also do not damage other flowers. For some years now we have had some of my favorite daffodils at the top of a bank on the alley. Anybody could walk up and pick them, but nobody does, or very rarely.
It's an error to think the level of trust in America has so far declined that it's not safe to plant any flower within public view.
On the contrary, people do not swipe flowers.
My neighbor has firm notions what is worth growing and what is not, and for years he has had a very large bed planted solid with nothing but the rose "Crimson Glory." You could walk off the alley up his stone path and make off with an armful. But nobody ever does.
I am not so much concerned with turning the capital into a floral carpet as I am in seeing more gardeners plant a daffodil here, a daylily there, or a snowball bush yonder out where the passing world can enjoy it.
Riding the bus, I remember the delight of everybody when all the tulips came into bloom in front of the Iranian embassy, and the palpable disappointment of the riders the day they were all cut. (The revolutionary government now occupying the embassy did not cut them this past spring, which was the first thing I found to admire in their government).
The Brazilians used to have wonderful irises in all colors in front of their embassy, and bus riders craned to see them in may.
They were replaced by some yellow carpet flower, since the irises only bloomed three weeks and the yellow stuff blooms all through the growing season. I do not question their right to replace the better with the worse but merely record the pleasure the irises used to give the bus riders.
There is a tiny piece of land, maybe three card tables in size, near McKinley and 39th, right on the sidewalk. There are a handful of clumps of irises there, 'Snow Flurry,' and 'Ola Kala,' among them, and I never walked by without noticing other people admiring them as I did. In the years since I lived in that neighborhood I have found reasons to manufacture some errand in that part of town merely to see that small patch of flowers.
Sometimes efforts have been made to plant flowers in poor parts of cities. Often it is thought patronizing, and it rarely works. Rebuffed, gardeners say to hell with it.
But I say the right way to start is in the gardener's own neighborhood, not elsewhere; and there is no better start than with say even three or five or a dozen daffodils.
There is no real reason except convenience why amaryllis bulbs in pots require a rest period.
Usually one bulb is grown to a pot, blooming in February or March, kept growing outdoors for the summer, brought indoors and dried gradually (simply by not watering the pot) and kept dormant, still in the dry dirt of the pot, until January. Then watering is resumed, the bulb blooms in February, and the process repeats. Year after year.
It works fine. But some gardeners might prefer to keep the plant growing throughout the year, not forcing it into dormancy at all. I have seen amaryllis grown in 10- or 12-inch pots or small tubs, remaining in full leaf throughout the year.
In large pots, with care continuing right on through the fall, the plants increase faster and thus bloom more heavily.
For me, it has always worked better to dry the pots out in the fall, storing them in the basement, and starting them up again after Christmas. Either way works well; it depends mainly on whether you want a great bushy pot plant in the house from September to March or whether indoor space is at a premium.