Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Tell us Your Garden Stories" Customer Submission from Mary Cantin

Daffodils from Dad

Hi, I'm Mary Cantin, a gardener from Rockland, Ontario. Vesey's has so many great products, but you just can't beat daffodils. Unlike tulips, wildlife won't eat them and the flowers return like faithful friends. It's worth investing in the most expensive varieties as even in my clay soil they willingly multiply.

My father was a man who loved to garden. He had several seed catalogues on hand each winter and he was always looking for something new. Living in Southern Ontario we were lucky enough to have a variety of fruit trees. When it came to vegetables, Dad grew zucchini and kohlrabi and sugar beets and okra before anyone knew what they were, when to pick them, or what to do with them. You and I take the internet for granted now, but then in the 70's, my mom had no choice but to patiently scratch her head and try to figure out what to do with each year's new experimental food. Of course Dad was a mostly practical man and we had wonderful “normal” fruit and vegetables each year too.

As a child, I'd ogle the seed catalogues, fascinated with the beautiful flowers, and my father would add a few flower packets amongst the new tomato and pepper varieties, and that experimental vegetable of course. Although Dad had some lovely established flowering shrubs, I was the “flower gardener” and I'd bed out annuals. Dad would start the darlings I wanted by seed in the greenhouse and nurture them for months. It never occurred to me how spoiled I was. I just had to plant them out and maintain them over the summer. My, I wish I had that deal now.

I knew little about perennials or bulbs at that age. My idea of flower gardening then was annuals in small beds around the house. When I was in my early teens my father prepared a new triangular flower bed to add to my flower gardening responsibility. To start me off, we planted some daffodil bulbs into the flower bed. Although I loved flowers I didn't think much of daffodils at the time, but he seemed excited by them. There couldn't have been more than a dozen bulbs.

As the years went by the daffodils multiplied on their own and they took up more and more of the space in my triangular flower bed. This was a good thing for eventually I went off to university and there was no one to plant those annuals. I married and settled down in a home, far too many hours drive from my parents, and in a cooler climate than my Southern Ontario roots. The first thing I wanted was flower gardens and we had them before we had a lawn. My parents came for a visit and brought me a gigantic bucket of daffodil bulbs, offspring of the dozen my father and I had planted together so many years earlier.

The daffodils continued to multiply easily on their own and pretty soon cars would slow down as they passed in the spring to admire the welcoming yellow daffodils after our long Rockland Ontario winter. They even attracted hummingbirds. Eventually some bulbs would end up in huge perennial gardens in the back yard as well At some point I gave them away to neighbours, at plant swaps, and sold them at plant sales. They are at the point where I've naturalized large swaths of them on the edges of our property. Some are even in the road allowance on the other side of the road where passing little girls pick some to take home. If I notice them, I'll invite them for a stroll in the back and pick them a larger bouquet, including a few more fancy varieties.

Each spring our property is literally alight with the yellow daffodils I planted with my father some 35 years ago. My father has been gone for over 10 years, but his warmth and sunshine will always live on in those daffodils.

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