THROUGH THE WOODS: Color spring yellow

THE RICH GOLDEN SUN MELTS the winter snow and starts our beautiful spring season of flowers. Our first yellow flowers were the tiny aconite in the beds behind the house and they are often accompanied by white snow drops. It is so nice to see growing things again and yellow is the color of joy and happiness.

We traditionally force forsythia to bloom and brought in a few branches and placed them in water. The warmth of the kitchen tricked the buds and leaves into coming out and was the first spring bouquet to cheer me up. The daffodils are finally out of the ground on our cool hilltop. My mother always planted daffodils each fall and added more varieties to her large collection. It was so nice to take a container and knife outside and just keep cutting them. Her only rule was always leaving a few in each clump so they would still look pretty outside.

I often took bunches of daffodils to work, and we all enjoyed them. She loved to walk around the house and farm to greet and admire each clump, as if she were checking up on how her “other children” were doing. The pond in the meadow below the barn was another of her favorite spots for daffodils, and they had to be placed so hungry cattle would leave them alone and not trample them. This problem was solved by planting the daffodils on the steepest banks away from the shallow spot where the cows liked to drink.

Yellow daffodils. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

Deer usually don’t eat daffodils, and I never saw a cow eat them, but you never know with cows. It is hard to comprehend why, but cows will browse on multiflora rose bushes and chew all those sharp thorns. Our old farm is just down the road from my house, so I often stop to see how things are doing. Sure enough, Mom’s daffodils are blooming all around where the house used to stand and there are large clumps in bloom on the banks of the pond. My father had the pond dug sixty years ago for fire protection and for a more secure means of watering livestock during dry summers. Before that he often fenced off and planted potatoes in this fertile spot. My mother planted two weeping willow trees there and the regrowth of a very large one is still there.

Willows also turn yellow in spring, before their leaves come out, and look so pretty and graceful as the long thin branches sway in the breezes, dancing in the sunshine. It makes me smile and think of my mother, and she would be pleased that we are still enjoying her babies.

One year she and I broke off small willow branches and planted them along the brook that runs through the meadow. She knew that willows have a relatively short life compared to other trees and knew these branches would grow roots to keep the soil from eroding, and eventually make good places for the brook trout to hide. Some of the willows survived the ever-foraging cattle, are thriving, and will live on after the remaining old willow finally dies.

You never know what subsequent owners will do, but so far, they have appreciated them and left them alone. To the east and up the road my Aunt Mary’s daffodils are out and further on, so are my grandmother’s in her former yard. It is nice to have such a collection of old friends to admire each year. A few yellow crocus and hyacinth emerged, and the tulips are showing leaves. We planted many new tulip bulbs last fall. When you look at the flower catalogs they are so enticing, and it is hard to choose from the dozens and dozens of varieties. I can’t wait to see them. There are some fancy golden yellow ones and I know they are going to be gorgeous. I am already smiling in anticipation and hope to cut a nice big vase full. I love spring!

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