Derek – Friday 19th February 2021

It’s chilly though the sun is shining. There’s ripples across the pond to the tune of the wind. The surface vegetation has withered though the underwater oxygenators, hornwort and elodea, are green but providing little oxygen. They need more heat than this February sun is giving out. The forecast says we may get it at the weekend.

There’s a blue tit in the large sycamore. Around the front feeder, there are a lot of sparrows but they scatter as I come close. I see no flying insects, so I wonder about winter flowering plants like viburnum tinus. It’s a shrub, the leaves are privet like, and it has bunches of small florets, and has been flowering for the past few months. I suspect that it’s the long flowering season which gives the blooms a chance of being fertilised by the few insects there are around.

Though it’s chilly, the temperature is still 7 or 8 degrees warmer than the past couple of weeks, when we had frost and even a little snow. The pond was frozen and the acanthus distressed. The plant has a dome of large leaves; these were so wilted in the snow, I wondered if it would recover. But it has. Perhaps a month of real cold might have put paid to it, but it has survived 10 days of it, and no longer needs a doctor’s note.

The black and white cat is licking moss. I watch it for a minute, and it licks away eagerly. It’s not like an ice lolly, there’s no food there. Perhaps it likes the sensation of the smooth moss on its rough tongue.

There’s a few purple and yellow crocuses around the garden, always early bloomers. And daffodils, the regular kind as well as the miniature variety. I take some photos of the miniatures, but they don’t look small in the pictures with nothing to judge them against.

The daffodil is the national flower of Wales and is traditionally worn on St David’s Day, which celebrates Wales’ patron saint, St David (Dewi sant in Welsh), on March 1st. Traditionally, children are given a calennig, which is a small gift, on the saint’s day.

We mostly grow daffodils from bulbs, rather than seed. A bulb is a short stem with a base of fleshy leaves that functions as a food store. A large bulb virtually guarantees flowering as the plant has such a good start with all that food. Botanically, daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus. There are hundreds of species, many of which look very alike to the uninitiated. Narcissus is just another name for daffodil, though some people think it only applies to the white ones, just to confuse us.

Daffodils should not be cut back after flowering but left until the leaves turn yellow. This is so that food in the leaves drains back into the bulb to give next year’s flower. The best time to plant them is October, though you can plant them as late as January. You shouldn’t leave them longer as they need a period of cold of at least 12 weeks. Keeping them in the fridge is a good idea. I have a few I have just planted this month which is awfully late, and not chilled. Too many sins, but let’s see how they fare. Not very well, I suspect.

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