For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasures fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Tried and true! There are approximately 32,000 Narcissus cultivars out there in the world, so there is bound to be at least one that is right for you. We know them as daffodils, those cheery bits of sunshine that emerge just in time to remind us spring is on the way. But planting them at the right time can be a little tricky.
Daffodils are available in nurseries when we least remember to plant them...late summer through autumn. The bulbs are dormant, which makes them easy to ship all around the world in search of their new homes. The challenge of planting them is not necessarily how but exactly when. Here in Northern California, if you plant them as soon as you bring them home from the nursery, they may surprise you by blooming by winter holidays. However, if you prefer to see them bloom in late winter to early spring, then the best option is to store them in a freezer (check them regularly for mold...if your refrigerator is operating properly this should not be a problem). Then plant them as part of your New Year's celebrations (or shortly afterwards). This helps them remain dormant during the coldest part of our winter, whereas planting earlier the soil can still be warm enough to signal their growth.
As this blog post started, gophers despise daffodils, which is why we planted hundreds of them in our garden. When a gopher comes up to one, they turn in their tunnels and go somewhere else. Finding so many, along with other anti-gopher practices we have implemented, has diminished their populations two-fold since moving to our home. With so many daffodils in the garden, cutting some blooms for the house is guiltless. Great for sharing with the neighbors, too.