Flora Gold for a Gray April


The mood is gray-black lit by gold-yellow. The month is April. Daffodils reign. Under atmospheric river storms, sodden snow, and great big inhales of sunshine, we dig the ground and plant. Looking up from the squelch squerch beneath my boots, golden bright daffodils beam pure joy. Popping out in their hundreds against the art of the black fence, the two varieties we planted last fall along the side garden provide the best kind of distraction. The visual healing reminds me to tell you to plant more daffodils. Don’t discount them as too common, old fashioned, or not native. You need daffodils in April like you need the sunshine after the long winter and cold start to spring.

Sure, you can grab a bag of bulbs from one of those big box stores, but I wouldn’t. It’s not like planting bulbs is particularly easy. It takes bending, kneeling, and prying small holes deep and narrow between root crowns, your body placed just so as you step between the perennials. Make your efforts art by choosing a combination of forms, colors and bloom times. Enjoy the chance to choose your palette. I love a reliable early bloomer like ‘February Gold’ for the first opportunity to enjoys daff’s light. And then, the colors! Do you love the pure white of ‘Thalia’ or the warming peach cup of ‘Salome’? I’d put both together and add something shorter and smaller to the combo!

A bulb auger attached to a cordless drill makes planting easier. I strongly suggest one. If only because it allows you to plant more bulbs than you thought you could. Fifty or a hundred daffodils, even in a small garden, can be placed like a wash from a paintbrush across the beds, uniting the garden with an ephemeral theme that declares Spring’s emergence.

Not only do their cupped blooms warm your heart, they also provide a measurably warmer refuge for early pollinators to sleep in overnight. Yes, that’s right, daffodils are down comforters for bees!

Along I-5, you see daffodils, planted long ago by a kind hand, glowing in great swathes, amidst green grasses and hunting hawks. Reliable as rain and multiplying like mice, daffodil bulbs are a good long term floral investment. If yours decline, check here to learn why. And try again! Every April needs a daffodil moment.



If you’re looking for a native plant-of-the-month, (I know, we do need to aim for 70% natives in our yards to nurture nature), look closer at tall Oregon grape (Mahonia / Berberis aquifolium). Each small flower in the cluster is a daffodil in miniature with corona and corolla, cup and saucer. Oregon grape and daffodil speak the same pattern language. It’s a pattern to attend to this month. Fill your cup. Wear your crown. Spring is here!






the warmth of the cat

curled in the curve of belly and thigh
is spring’s sun
is golden yellow daffodils
is brief, fleeting, ephemeral

a single claw pierces through cloth
to the tender flesh
of inner arm

winter’s bite stings
long after it’s withdrawn

but back to the daffodils
back to golden cups
rising on straight stems
mingling with still-dormant tufts
of summer blooming pennisetum

golden warmth for the gaze
an expansive inhale of the

rufous hummingbird arrives
clicking and whirring
above the yellow eyes
glowing from black fur
yellow daffs
black fence
black winter past
yellow present moment

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