Rescuing daffodils means singing a different song
Friday, Mar. 21, 2014

Rescuing daffodils means singing a different song

In the past week, I have taken to singing songs from old musicals. This is a sure-fire sign that spring is here.

This spring, I decided that I was going to make an extra effort to protect my daffodils from any last wintry bits blowing into the Piedmont.

Every February since moving to Concord, I have watched our daffodils poke up through the earth, stretch and turn slender, and bloom straight into a killing snow or stalk-breaking freezing rain.

Every year I’d see their gentle yellow-and-white blooms fall to the earth, flattened by late winter blasts I had mentally (and far too hopefully) banished from the region.

So on a recent, fine, spring day of over 70 degrees, I headed to the local home improvement store. I went straight to the garden center.

“Do you carry those metal thingies?” I asked. “I need to protect my daffodils.”

“Um, metal thingies?” asked the salesperson. “Oh. Yes, we have garden stakes over here.”

He showed me the stakes. At the top, the metal had been bent into a three-quarters circle.

“I’ll take 10,” I said firmly.

I went home and unpacked in the kitchen. I did not go into denial. I imagined the storms that would surely come. I saw the rain trying to hammer my daffodils and break their slender spines.

“Walk on through the wind,” I warbled, “walk on through the rain.”

My husband, Ralf, came into the kitchen. “What are those green metal thingies?” he asked.

“They are for the daffodils,” I said. “This year, our daffodils will walk through a storm and hold their heads up high.”

“Walk through a storm?” Ralf queried. “Daffodils get off their duff?”

“Metaphorically speaking,” I said. “At least they will stand up straight, regardless of sturm or drang.”

I went outside. I poked the stakes in all over the yard. I tenderly nudged every bloom inside a metal circle.

The next day was windy. When I got home from work at UNC Charlotte, many of our daffodils were lying on the ground, two with broken stalks. The wind had blown them clean out of the circles.

I reinserted and restabilized.

Two days later, it rained. It was windy again.

I reinserted and restabilized.

A few days later we had sleet and near-freezing rain. I went out twice that day to reinsert and restabilize. Each time I came in cold, wet and miserable.

“Out providing orthopedic support for the daffodils again?” Ralf asked when I came back the second time.

“Yes,” I grumbled. “There ought to be a better way.”

“Maybe those flowers have a design flaw,” Ralf suggested. “Or maybe they are just meant to lie down.”

“No, no,” I said piteously. “At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet, silver song of the lark.”

Ralf looked thoughtful. “At the first morning light,” he said, “down they all lie, but they all stand back up in the dark.”

“Excuse me? What?” I asked. “No! No! Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.”

“How much does it take? Do they all need a stake? Why can’t they just stand when they’re grown?”

“Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart,” I warbled loudly, “And you’ll ne-ver walk a-lone.” (I drew out the high notes.)

Ralf looked at me. For a moment we were both silent.

But I know lots of old musicals. I had just been singing the wrong song.

I looked sweetly at my husband of over three decades. “Ma Nature’s lyrical,” I sang clearly, “with her yearly miracle.”

And after so many years, Ralf knows all those songs, too. He looked at me, opened his arms for a hug and chimed right in, “Spring, spring, spring!”

Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Barbara? Email her at

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