Every April in the Greater Niagara area over 2 million
daffodils bloom. This is known as the Festival of Gold because the
daffodils are yellow. The origin of the festival is fading into the mists of
antiquity (20 years ago?) which undoubtedly pleases those who dreamed it up.
They promoted it as a contemporary magic, desperate but
hopeful: our failing post-industrial region could reclaim its economic
prosperity by planting Gold—people would then flock here to see all the
daffodils and spend their money. "Wow, honey! Look at all the daffodils!
Where's my wallet?" Guess what? The magic didn't work.
But daffodils are still everywhere, along parkways, randomly
popping up in April long before the crush of tourists begin to arrive, in State
Parks, along routes through the countryside, beyond the mowed area at
crossroads. The silliest location for daffodils is at DeVeaux Woods State Park,
where clumps of these alien blooms dot the border of the old growth forest
there along the rim of the Niagara gorge.
Can you imagine a more incongruous or sillier way to mark
the existence of an old growth forest which for hundreds of years has nourished
its flora atop a gorge thousands of years old? Who sanctioned this daffy
The daffodil originated in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
How appropriate. Why not plant Giant Russian Hogweed? They are much more
dramatic, sometimes over ten feet tall, with blooms nearly two feet in diameter.
And they are self-propagating, and toxic, too. We are, after all, home to Love
Canal. And early pioneers raised pigs here. The Hogweed Festival! I can hear
the hog-calling contests now, and imagine the great smells from pork chop BBQ
stands that will pop up as numerous as daffodils.
Though I would never do such a thing, nor recommend it to
anyone else, a few quarts of waste oil poured judiciously around those old growth daffodils would solve that problem. That would be nothing compared to
the oil in the Gulf. It would be nothing compared to the 231,769 tons
of carbon emissions from vehicles using the gorge parkway, nothing to the tons
of winter salt spread there. These pollutants routinely wash into our unique
gorge landscapes now, where cedars hundreds of years old cling to life on the
cliffs. This doesn't seem to bother too many people, certainly not those early
Learn more about these issues by visiting Niagara Heritage
Partnership ; contact Bob Baxter at erbaxter(at)aol.com. Photo courtesy Niagara County Parks.