I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
But they weren’t golden. We’ve been fooled!
The daffodils Wordsworth saw were not the golden daffodils that were developed half a century later but the native species narcissus pseudonarcissus aka the Lent Lily which is a paler color. They’re not particularly popular today because they’re, well, lackluster if you lack poetic vision and don’t last well in a vase.
Daffodils became big business–and golden–in the latter half of the nineteenth century when commercial market gardening took off. The National Trust started a project in 2001 to identify historic varieties of daffodils–you can read about it here.
I find it rather appealing that the director of the project is a former International Daffodil Registrar (“… and what do you do?”). The project is conducted at Cotehele House in Cornwall where it’s estimated there may be as many as 400 unidentified species of daffodils lurking in hedgerows.
Here’s a US source for historic daffodils and an article on their history at Old House Gardens.com –they were introduced into England in the thirteenth century!
And have you noticed that the more you say the word daffodil the sillier it sounds?
Talking of silly names, the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset is where a courageous group of farm laborers living on starvation wages formed a trade union and were transported to serve as an example to their peers. The Tolpuddle Martyrs are still revered as champions of liberty and the trades union movement and today is the anniversary of their sentencing to seven years transportation in 1834. More at my other home away from home online at History Hoydens.
Do you have any favorite silly words or are daffodils blooming yet in your yard?