Lent Lilies

In the back of my mind, I recall young Dickon in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden calling daffodils ‘daffodumdillies’.  It’s a word that has stayed in my mind – it is so full of spring sunshine, energy and appreciation.  As I’ve not read the book in forty years my memory may be wrong, but what is certain is how strong the daffodil is in our English consciousness, how powerful it is as a signal of spring, of the sun returning, of hope and new life.

As a nature reserve, the only daffodils allowed at Sun Rising are the native Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the Lent lily.  These have pale yellow petals with a darker yellow trumpet, fine grey-green leaves, and in height they are usually no more than 6 – 8″.

Lent Lilies beneath Memorial Trees

Lent Lilies beneath Memorial Trees

As a burial ground, it’s hard to stop families planting daffodil bulbs.  We supply many hundreds each October, but some cultivars still creep in – sometimes large blousy daffs, sometimes the beautiful little golden ones.  Sadly, to keep the integrity of the nature reserve, we do remove them, and this is a task for late March and early April.  This year we’ve been more fastidious than previously, and for the first year we have removed every bulb that flowers to show it is not the native Lent lily.  It is wonderful to look around and see nothing but the wild daffodils.

And in October, ever cultivar removed will be replaced with one of the beautiful native ones …  As the years go by, there’ll be more and more, as spring comes, with all its promise of new beginnings.

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