The Ides of March

Posted by & filed under Natural Areas, Perennials.

Bradford Pears in NATO Vista“Beware the Ides of March”
So the soothsayer warned Julius Caesar and that gloomy forecast went well with today – at least as far as the weather was concerned.  A cold soggy gray day kept most folks away and the Garden was left mostly to us plants.  The quiet is a nice respite – I never complain if the gardeners are not here.  Frankly I am more scared of a gardener with a sickle than a Roman with a sword.

Despite the gloomy conditions, the Garden is a very beautiful place.  In the Japanese Garden, the weeping cherries are starting to put out their delicate pink flowers.  In contrast with the rain-darkened slates of the terrace, it is a very striking scene.  Saucer magnolias throughout the Garden are starting to put out their pink and white flowers, brightening the landscape with their promises of the coming Spring. The low clouds wrap quietly around the white-blooming Bradford pears in NATO Vista, creating an eerie effect.  They look like a ghostly phalanx of Roman soldiers coming for the ill-fated Caesar.  

DaffodilBeware the Ides of March – really it is a date on a calendar and while Shakespeare highlights a negative event that happens on this transitional day of this transitional month, other writers find joy in this time of year:

March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Stirs the dancing daffodil
       – by Sara Coleridge

Tazetta daffodilThis is indeed a month for daffodils.  They are popping out all across the Garden.  Shades of yellow, white, cream and orange are dancing everywhere.  Tall King Alfred and his friends are sprawling across the Sarah Lee Baker Perennial Garden.  Along the road between the Camellia Garden and the Picnic shelter, little Tete-a-Tetes are nodding knowingly to each other.  A large crowd in the wooded area along the entrance road greets visitors arriving – a self-appointed welcoming committee.  Here and there pockets of sunshine twinkle in the garden.  Small tazetta types show ruffled flowers while the shy little hoop petticoat daffodil hides modestly along the edge of a wooded path.

The daffodil is a wondrous charm and teaches us some great lessons about gardening.  It takes a bit of faith for a gardener to stick an ugly looking onion-like bulb into the ground in the fall.  Yet, when Spring arrives, that faith is rewarded with a hearty show of golden beauty when winter is still nipping at our heels.  The daffodil is a testament to patience and a person’s belief in the future that is needed whenever establishing and cultivating a garden.  So it is not surprising that we celebrate this harbinger of spring in poem and song.

Are some of you surprised that a humble little flower like me enjoys literature?  Remember I write a blog (well really I’m dictating to a friend – I am a very slow typist – I can only use two leaves in a hunt-and-peck system).  It just goes to show that some flowers have a lot of personality and deep roots, unlike some pretty but shallow flowers (no names, but one goes by the initials D-A-Y-L-I-L-Y).  So don’t judge a plant by its bloom.  

I will close with a wonderful ode to the glorious flower of March:   

I wander’d 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;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete'Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
            – by William Wordsworth