Right now my worst daffodil is just starting to look like it drank some poison. There’s something resembling a grimace on its spent, little, seedhead face. Or, maybe, it’s a look that says, “Hmmm, the martini I drank at this Mediterranean casino was surprisingly unpleasant.” Its eyes cloud slightly as it scans the room for the assassin. Soon there will be an all out spastic collapse and it will flail and flop and then finally drape its rotting ass self all over some innocent, happy, healthy, perennial just emerging, which itself will wonder, “WTF kind of world am I coming into?”
And soon there will be heard a thundering cascade of hundreds more daffodils writhing about in their death throes, getting all Shakespearean and shit.
Arriving home from work, seeing the daffs failing as everything else is coming into its own, I mutter aloud, “It’s enough just to witness this hideous display of suffering and death on our planet. Thank God I can’t hear all the moans!” I enter my house.
That’s where I hear the wailing of my wife and children. They are at the window watching the carnage, the latter clutching the skirt of the former, all of them spewing tears as if from a blown hose. My wife approaches, dragging the children across the floor with her. “Oh please, my darling. Oh please, my strong, handsome, and incredibly good-in-bed husband, “Please, please, please do something.” Realizing she just said that last part in front of the children, she blushes. I glance at the little tykes and can’t decide which is more appalling, that they seem to know the meaning of what she just said or that they obviously don’t believe her.
I decide to take action. As if an employee at a track and a race horse had just broken its leg and is flopping around like an English soccer player, I grab my gun. “Don’t worry, honey,” I say. “I’ll put it out of its misery!”
I stride out into the yard, assume position, and take aim. Just then, a long, dark stranger arrives. It’s a woman from the Daffodil Society, and she’s beating her breasts. “No, no, no!” She implores. “You can’t do that. You must wait until all the foliage dies back so the bulb can receive all the energy it needs to bloom again next spring.”
I pause and think to myself, “Next spring seems a long way off.” I look at the Daffodil Society woman and then I look back at my wife and children, gesturing wildly, albeit silently, in the window. I turn my attention to the daffodil. It’s all but begging for mercy and things are really starting to get out of hand. “Stand back,” I command, taking aim. “I am going to free this wretched soul of its mortal coil!” And then the Daffodil Lady does something unexpected. She throws herself over the daffodil. “Dammit!” I exclaim. “What the hell?”
“We must,” she sobs. “We must let nature take its course. Otherwise…” She can’t finish. I stand there perplexed, still pointing my gun in a flaccid sort of way.
Just then the cops arrive. Seeing me with a gun, they taze the living hell out of me. Multiple, multiple times. And now it’s me flopping all over the front lawn. Like a fish. Howls of laughter come from every direction in the neighborhood. Apparently, this is the funniest damned thing the neighbors have ever seen and I’m thinking, “Are daffodils worth all of this? Seriously. Same thing happened last year. Same thing will probably happen next year too. Are they worth it?”
At the county lockup, forlornly scrolling through photos on my phone in my cell, I see all the good times in my life as if in a weird dream. There’s Christmas. And New Years. Someone’s birthday or something. And then that first daffodil of spring. And the second. And the third. And right then, before I can forget, I find my calendar app, scroll to some random date in August, and type, “Order more daffs.”
I feel the same way! I was out front gazing down at my spent flowers. I had clippers in my hand and was just about to cut back the foliage but the I remembered how beautiful the daffodils were…end of story. Thanks for yours.
Same thoughts every year. No more daffs. Then the bulb catalogs arrive. Must have more.
i used to braid the damn things in all the yards we took care of. not so sure it looked any better but the customers were impressed. Actually, after one or two seasons we said screw it and i started trimming them back half way which made them look a bit more tidy and didn’t seem to lessen the bloom the following year. Now, a very clever person like for instance, MW, would have positioned those daffs where other emerging perennials would have camouflaged their fading blades of putridity. sadly, most of us aren’t that clever.
Thanks for the foretelling chuckle. I’m recently (re)enthralled with diffs after a visit to Filoli this spring when the orchard was carpeted with their amazing and long-lived collection. I returned home to see my first tentative narcissus coming into bloom and vowed to order much more. We’ll see how my tune changes in a few weeks. But for now, our ridiculously cold spring here in the PNW has stopped time in daffodil heaven.
Actually, the neighbor was only half right- the flower stems should be cut back after blooming, leaving the leaves to die down on their own. They provide food for next years bloom.
I just don’t love daffodils in my garden, though I will tell my friends how beauty they are in their gardens. Instead, I order very showy tulips that I yank out of the ground the moment they are spent, which is somehow very satisfying.
Scott, you sure have a vivid fantasy life.
What? Oh no. No imagination whatsoever!
Thanks for a good laugh. I have to keep the daffodils as they are one the few things the #%$^& deer don’t eat (although they can been mowed down by a heavy wet snowfall). I just cut off the dead flowers and let the leaves flop where they may until I can pull out the remnants.
I lack excitement in gardening. The closest I come is astonishment over how much money I spend with so little result, which if magnified, might just approach remorse and regret, but totally lacking in the kind of adventures Scott has.
Love having a laugh out loud moment in the middle of the week! Just yesterday I lamented to my husband that I think I got a bit carried away with the daffodil order last year. Our cold Spring in the PNW will make them last even longer. Dang!
My daffs have multiplied so much that if the foliage can’t be hidden, I cut the offending foliage to the ground. Next year they return anyway. This was in my previous PNW garden. Entirely different now that I’m back in the Midwest!
Thanks, Scott, your best rant ever. Henceforth all daffodils will bring a vision of you writhing after being tazed. (not funny in real life, but in the imagination it’s quite a sight.)
Thanks! And, BTW, I’m okay with if being funny either way. I mean, I would laugh.
Words fail me. – MW
Then I have succeeded.
That was great! Thank you for the laughs on a dreary wet morning in the Midwest where our daffodils are pelted down with rain.
Christopher Lloyd felt the same way, but he was an English garden writer, so perhaps that is not relevant.
Fun discussion of the carnage. When I can, I hide daffs behind daylilies, which I admit have their own challenges after the first freeze, so I should probably find a way to hide them, too. When I can’t stand the daffodil flop, I’ll cut them back by half, which makes them look like they’ve just had a bad Mohawk haircut.
Funniest garden post I’ve ever read.
Certainly not true, but thanks anyway!
Well, who knows? Maybe.
Yes, it is hard to watch the death throes. I started buying more shorties like Tete a Tete, the better to camoflage their last breaths, but it’s not the same, it it? I keep buying special ones, now in pots begging for a garden home.
Funny stuff, I feel ya on all of that!
Chuckled throughout the entire read! Great bit of writing. Daffodils are my favorite geophyte. Anxiously awaiting their bloom here in the far north if spring ever decides to settle in.
Enjoy! And then commiserate.
I love my daffodils, I know is for a short time every year but I’m satisfied with them .
Loved this rant! So funny!
In my yard we double the “fun” with Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily) foliage dying back at the same time the daffs are about to come up, so we have two rounds of decaying, writhing foliage to endure. This year I couldn’t take it any longer and in January I told my husband just to go ahead and mow the spider lily foliage down now. It was starting to droop and turn brown, and the daffs were just about to emerge.
So now, our daffs are doing the same thing yours are doing. Here we go again! But no mowing the daff foliage!
Funny post, I can dig it. I always trim them. Sharp, sterile pruners, holding the tired foliage taut, I snip them at about the 10-12 inch mark of length at a sharp angle. The leaves that remain should still photosynthesize plenty for next year.