Daffodils make a saturating return

A week ago, when the first flowers on our daffodils started to swell and hint yellow through the papery spathe that protects the bud, I predicted that we’d have open flowers within a day or two. Last Tuesday was a beautiful, warm day. If I had looked at the long-term forecast, I wouldn’t have been so optimistic. Since my prediction, we’ve had several mornings with temperatures below freezing interspersed with a couple of days cold, soaking rains.

Each day when I’ve arrived home from work, I’ve looked out our patio doors to the clump of daffodils in the border that wraps the northwest corner of our property. These daffodils have always been the first to bloom in our landscape, and they seemed to be on similar pace this year.

Normally, our springs warm up so quickly that the daffodils seem underground one day, and blooming the next. But this year, they’ve taken a long time to open. For a few overcast, cold days, they remained tightly wrapped, just slightly more yellow each evening.

On Saturday night, heavy rain moved into our area, leaving our backyard under three inches of standing water for most of Sunday morning. Perhaps the daffodils were waiting for this burst of moisture, because by Sunday afternoon, the first bud began to shed its spathe and open.

Monday brought another cool morning, but an afternoon of plentiful sun. By the time I arrived home last night, the first of the daffodils had petals spread wide, heralding spring with their coronal trumpets.

The next few days promise to be more reminiscent of late spring, with temperatures nearing 80 degrees. With such warmth, the daffodils will soon be joined by a chorus of tulips and grape hyacinth backed by the greening foliage of a wide variety of perennials returned from winter dormancy.

Saturday’s rain may have soaked the ground beyond capacity, but it also brought a different kind of saturation — the return of vibrant color to the garden. The muted colors of winter are being replaced by the bright palette of spring as the garden springs back to life.