Daffodils = spring, spring = daffodils. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s something to do with bright yellow blooms catching the eye after a drab winter. Maybe it’s because that upon appearing they lift the spirit and let us know that better weather is just around the corner. Maybe they are alien life-forms intent on bending us to their will and taking over the world. Whatever it is, there seems to be more and more of them every year.
I sympathise with the often noble aspirations of guerrilla gardeners, bringing life into the concrete jungle where they can. But surely, there must be limits. Artificially beautifying an area is nothing new. In the late 1800’s railway stations along the North York Moors’ Esk Valley Line were liberally planted up with the yellow peril, from Middlesbrough to Danby, as part of a marketing exercise, with plans to plant all the way to Whitby and call it “The Daffodil Line”. The name was dropped, but amazingly a lot of daffodils still remain. And of course, there is the annual “Britain in Bloom” competition.
I’ve reluctantly accepted daffodils surreptitiously planted along rural grass verges as an extension of the guerrilla’s mindset. Despite how out of place they often look. But when out recently on an early morning foray, exploring the rolling North York Moors, I came across a bunch of gaudy and over-the-top-yellow daffodils that had been planted up high amongst heather. No doubt this act of horticultural self-expression was well intentioned, but it’s so misguided. If yellow was what the planter wanted to see they only had to look around. Not more than ten paces away was a small broom shrub with its bright yellow flowers bursting forth.
Folk seem to be mindlessly driven to bring their gardens into the countryside, when it would be so much better for us all if they let a little of the countryside into their gardens instead.