Tag Archives: Daffodils

Daffodil Season


I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

Daffodils are such happy flowers. I can’t imagine anyone not liking them. They’re easy to grow and mix in beautifully with crocus, hyacinths, and other early blooms. Daffodils have always been on the farm. My mother-in-law had them, and the families who lived here before her. I’ve divided old clumps, spread them around, and planted new varieties over the years. The waving yellow and white blooms are a spirit lifting sight. When I’m outside working among the flowers, I feel more peaceful and not as freaked out about the pandemic. Like countless others, I’m at home for the duration and especially grateful for the garden. Having an early spring in the valley is a boon. I wish I could share the beauty with everyone. This is the best I can do.

Spring forever appears
the soothing music part
of lyrics unspoken.
It thaws the frozen fears,
mends the wounded heart
that Winter has broken.
~Aarno Davidson

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

Winter sprouts springtime wings and flies off into the budding year. ~Terri Guillemets

Daffodils, so bright and yellow,
Hyacinths of varied hues,
As they nod their heads, in gladness,
Telling us they bring good news…
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Springtime” (1940s)

I sure hope spring brings good news to us all

The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day. ~Robert Frost


Oh, yes. I know. April in the Shenandoah Valley is up and down and all around. Some days are heavenly blue and balmy. I ache to capture the beauty, and can’t bear to come inside from the garden.

_MG_8372

Daughter Elise brings her camera over, but even her talent cannot totally convey the beauty. A wash of rich green spreads from the yard down across the meadow. Tender new leaves flushed with rose blend in with the many shades of green in the woods on the hills behind our farm. Daffodils, tulips, Virginia bluebells, lilac, pears, bridal veil spirea…beloved blossoms return as old friends to color the trees and flower beds. Wild flowers star the roadside and the creek bank. A wonderland. On those days, we are like ‘The Shire’.

spring flowers in the Shenandoah Valley

Other days are cold, gray, and windy–as if the Norsemen are coming in their dragon-headed ships. Or the furious wind fairies are gathering to attack, as our resident fairy expert, my niece Cailin, would warn. Soft rains are gentle and sooth the earth. Animals, plants, and people hunker down on the chill-you-to-the bone blasting kind of days. Spring is ‘right mixy’ to quote a local country woman.

Beauty of Apeldoorn tulips
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke

The sun has come out… and the air is vivid with spring light. ~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything. ~William Shakespeare

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. ~Terri Guillemets

_MG_8464_1 (1)       (Elise made an arrangement of daffodils)

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.
~Emily Dickinson

A wizard must have passed this way
Since—was it only yesterday?
arrangement of violets in an old lavender bottleThen all was bare, and now, behold,
A hundred cups of living gold!
~Emma C. Dowd, “Daffodil and Crocus,” in Country Life in America: A Magazine for the Home-maker, the Vacation-seeker, the Gardener, the Farmer, the Nature-teacher, the Naturalist, April 1902

(Elise made an arrangement of violets in an old bottle we found on the farm)

It’s spring! Farewell
To chills and colds!
The blushing, girlish
World unfolds
Each flower, leaf
And blade of sod—
Small letters sent
To her from God.
~John Updike, “April,” A Child’s Calendar, 1965

_MG_8502

(An arrangement in our kitchen window by Elise. All images by Elise)

Spring: the music of open windows. ~Terri Guillemets

***Many of our flowers are heirlooms.

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain


daffodils in March snowWill a t-shirt suffice, or do I need my heavy coat? The question of the hour.

An encouraging flush of green spreads over the fields of rye and grassy meadows, still muddy from melting snow. Crocus brighten drab flower beds, while daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths push up leaves. Here and there, the hint of buds. The promise of new life stirs around the base of herbs and perennials. Like an elusive butterfly, spring hovers in the air, but tomorrow winter will chase it away for several days. Then spring returns again. Then winter–the back and forth dance that is March in the Shenandoah Valley. April can also be a fickle shuffle, though generally May is more.stately waltz. (Image of daffodils in the snow from last spring–also likely to happen this year)

But, hey, “Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

snow crocusThis afternoon, Daughter Elise and I plan to make a start in the garden and get the early greens and peas in. A little tardy for us. Normally we’ve accomplished this first planting of the year by now, but the season is running late. In the greenhouse, tiny seedlings shiver when the sun disappears–the trouble with a solar greenhouse. But the warmth holds for a time and they’re shielded from frost and biting winds. Oddly, the heat loving flowers and basil are emerging just fine, but nary a sign of tomatoes and peppers. I suspect the seed rotted and replanting awaits me. There’s much to do in the greenhouse and the garden when spring stops hovering and declares herself. Winter hibernation ends and the mad rush ensues. The dance takes off.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” ~Margaret Atwood

And so I shall.

My March Garden in The Shenandoah Valley–Beth Trissel


daffodils in March snow“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens,  To this famous quote I add, ‘and then it snowed.’

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ~Mark Twain

I heartily agree, and so I worked in my gardens on Saturday, quite mild out really, and daughter Elise  helped, which was greatly appreciated by this weary gardener. We got the peas and early greens…lettuce, bright lights Swiss chard, spinach, pok choy…plus radishes and assorted kinds of beets planted. *All heirloom seed. I added three Crimson rhubarb roots to the patch of red rhubarb. Only the traditional ‘been here forever’ green variety is reliably robust, but we keep trying. And then Sunday, Palm Sunday, (the little children were so precious at church waving their palms) it began to snow about mid afternoon. Same thing happened last Sunday. By this morning we have at least ten inches of the white stuff covering everything.

Elise went out yesterday with her camera at the start of the snow and took some lovely shots. Our old red barn with pussy willow in foreground.

snowy pussywillow by the old red barn on march 25

“Awake, thou wintry earth –
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness!
~Thomas Blackburn, “An Easter Hym

I hope the snow clears out by next weekend, which is Easter. Too early this year for me, but there it is. And I do love Easter whenever it comes.

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout

This is one of my most favorite spring quotes. I fully agree with Ruth Stout and have done so. I am also attempting to practice her no till gardening method. Image below of the seeds (packets are on the stakes) I planted on Saturday before Sunday’s snow with the pussy willow, wheelbarrow, and barn in the pic.

Seeds I planted the day before the snow on March 24th

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.” ~Proverb

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”  ~Doug Larson

Luca in the snow March 2013“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”  ~Ellis Peters

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”  ~Mark Twain (And so say all of us!)

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”  ~Edward Giobbi

To this I add, I hope I will have help with my gardens. Image of our rescue farm dog, Luca, at the start of the snow. We have two rescue farm dogs.

“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” ~Terri Guillemets

Amen to that!

pussywillow against the barn in March 25 snow

We rooted pussy willow shoots in the garden last spring and were amazed that they all took off, and now we have a dozen blooming willows to move and give away to good homes. Some we will plant by the farm pond, but they cannot remain where they are because pussy willows grow far too large, even when pruned to keep in a garden.

Oh look, it’s snowing again.

“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”
~L.H. Bailey

“First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus —
Crocus.”  ~Lilja Rogers

snpw crocus on march 25th

I Dreamed a Dream of Spring but They’re calling for Snow Again–Beth Trissel


 Images from past springs in the valley that shall return.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret AtwoodBluebeard’s Egg

 *The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  

Photographs by my mom, Pat Churchman

“Where man sees but withered leaves,
God sees sweet flowers growing.”
~Albert Laighton

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant

*Virginia Bluebells in my garden, flowers given to me by my dear grandmother.

“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.  Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”  ~Edward Giobbi

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.”
~Robert Frost

*Poppies and iris in the garden.

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”  ~William Shakespeare

“Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
To-day the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!”
~L.H. Bailey

“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring

 and stay that way later in the fall.”  ~Nadine Stair

*Country Lane in the valley.

“Spring in verses,
Verses in spring.”
~Violet Gartenlicht

“Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; 

now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire.”  ~Virgil

*A country roadside not far from our farm.

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”
~Bern Williams

“Spring is when life’s alive in everything.”
~Christina Rossetti

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

*My parent’s yard

“A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King.”
~Emily Dickinson

“Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.”
~Bishop Reginald Heber

“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.”
~William Wordsworth

Stone wall with daffodils at my mom’s house

Get out the Egg Dye–It’s that Time of Year Boys & Girls


Saturday morning I’m going to an Easter egg hunt at my mom’s with ‘the Smalls’ in our family. We may freeze now that April has decided to behave as early March should have done. Crazy weather, but I’ve always loved Easter, a joyous season when the earth is reborn in a swell of new life washed with vibrant color, a time of spiritual and physical renewal.  I can’t imagine Christ‘s resurrection taking place at any other time of year.  This is most fitting. Although in some parts of the world, I suppose it’s fall isn’t it?  A strange thought, hiding eggs beneath autumn leaves.  Maybe those regions of the globe don’t have fall foliage. Let me know dear readers.

As a six-year-old recently returned from an early childhood spent in Taiwan–no autumn leaves there, but we had a kewl banana tree in our front yard–I delighted in my first egg hunt in a neighbor’s yard filled with blooming crocus and daffodils.  Tucked in the green grass and among those shining blossoms were the many-colored eggs, like hidden jewels.  Magical. And chocolate rabbits.  I was in awe of an American Easter.

(*Grandson Colin from an earlier Easter)

Of course, in those days little girls wore hats and gloves and crinolines under their Easter dresses.  Yes, I was born in the 1800′s.  I also received my first white Bible on Easter, which is still my favorite one.  It had this new book smell and books were quite special back then because my father was an underpaid English professor and we were poor.  I just liked smelling my new Bible, but did eventually read much of it.  The names of my favorite Sunday School teachers are inked in the front under the section entitled ‘Friends at Church.’  I must have been a complete nerd not to have any children listed.  I had plenty of imaginary friends… (*Beth as a wee tot.)

Another early Easter memory is our family returning home from church and me climbing from the car to bury my face in a golden clump of daffodils by the back doorstep, beaded with rain.  Their sweet scent said spring to me.  And new life.  I always imagined the tomb where Christ was buried and rose again surrounded by daffodils and crocus.  Which is not likely given the photographs I’ve seen of what it may actually have looked like.  Very dry and rocky terrain.  I like my mental image better.  It’s the spirit of the event that matters, so I’ll stick with it.

“For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new-born.”

~Alice Freeman Palmer

“Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness.”  ~Floyd W. Tomkins

“It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls.”  ~Katherine Lee Bates

March Came in Like A Lamb, is Still a Lamb…


“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”  ~Rainer Maria RilkeLetters of Rainer Maria Rilke

This normally precarious, wildly unsettled month is unbelievably mild.   Crocus, Daffodils, hyacinths,  early tulips…are in full flower with the promise of more blooms on the way.  A cloud of blossoms envelop the apricot tree, the pears up by the old red barn are snowy white, the peach is pink…apples will be in flower next.  Our spirits are so buoyed we planted two new heritage apple trees, one peach, and a sour cherry.  If the frost holds off, we’ll have loads of fruit this year to can, freeze, make into jam and fruit butters.  Most of last year’s crop froze.

I’m already hard at work clearing away the vegetable garden,  spreading compost, planting early vegetable seeds….   The flower beds need cleaning of all the overwintering weeds so I’m busying myself in them, pruning roses, and generally tidying everything.  I’ve ordered new herbs and perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Some of the varieties I wanted are already sold out.  It’s only March 18th and I’m scrambling around like a demented bunny to keep up with the advancing season.  And the extended forecast shows more of the same unusually balmy weather.

All of a sudden it’s full-blown, bursting out all over, spring– like mid-late April, not March.  Will the weather hold, or will we be hit with a freeze?

I’m savoring all the beauty while wondering if it will suddenly be snatched away.  It’s mighty early to hope frost will pass us by, but last fall I found a solid brown woolly bear caterpillar with no black markings at all which means an unbelievably mild winter.  And thus it has been.  I’m putting my trust in the woolly bear as my prognosticator.   So much for Phil the Groundhog.

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”  ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.  It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”  ~Charles Dudley Warner

But I really hope they do.

*Image of our barn by me, and spring lane taken by my mother, Pat Churchman. The remainder of the images are royalty free.