Flower Power

The first few days of February have been dreary, to say the least. Last Monday, the first day of February, was also traditionally the first day of spring (the weather did not get the memo!) I took a notion to spruce up my window boxes. I have a yearning for daffodils – my father’s favourite flowers. He planted them along the country lane outside our old house. It was the only thing he ever really planted, I think. When he died of cancer in April 2008, daffodils were a golden riot of blossom, not just on the lane but all over Armagh. Each year when they flower, I feel like he is close by, and never more so than this year.

Daffodils are a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings – so apt for the times we are in. I also wanted to celebrate my mum’s vaccination day this week which was even more poignant, falling as it did on my father’s birthday. It felt like a little message from him in these dark days.

I needed a quick planting fix for my empty window boxes. Perhaps I should have planted the bulbs back in the autumn. Still, they’d not be far enough along for this week’s daffy-craving, so I decided to source forced bulbs, ones that were on the brink of blossom and make an instant display.

The problem – all the garden centres are closed due to covid restrictions. A depressing drive through a shuttered Armagh City centre, in the rain, (of course!) told the sorry tale of more businesses than just the garden centres and flower shops being closed. It was my first drive through town since before Christmas, and it left me sad and anxious.

But not to be thwarted in my quest to find daffodils, I called into my local supermarket, McAnerneys, so see if they had any daffodils in pots. This shop provided the plants for my summer window boxes during the first lockdown, so it was worth trying. Sure enough, there were a couple of pots of daffodils and some primulas.

Primroses are members of the primula family. I tend to call the non-wild varieties, with huge petals in different colours, primulas. The paler yellow ones under hedgerows in the countryside are primroses to me.

There was only a couple of each left, and I wasn’t sure how the pricing compared to buying them in a garden centre, but I was desperate. It still wasn’t enough to fill my planters though. So I stopped at the corner shop (Mullan’s at the Monaghan Road) and was delighted to discover they had more pots of daffodils. And some on the brink of blooming too!

So I brought it all home, and in less than half an hour I had put together two planters – a little more sparse than I’d usually plant up, but I’m looking forward to them filling in with blooming loveliness.

Spring is on the brink… hang in there.

Byddi Lee