Nothing says spring quite like a bunch of daffodils, trumpeting the news with their delicate blooms in cheery hues of bold yellow, tangy orange and frothy pink. And no one appreciates it more than Betty Jean and Del Thompson of Victoria, British Columbia. The couple’s love of daffodils is in evidence from one carpeted corner of their 16,000-square-foot property to the other. “We started out with a small bed of vegetables in the first years,” says Betty Jean of the plot the couple has owned for more than 40 years. “But one day a lone daffodil sprang up and it completely brightened the landscape. I took its hint, and I started planting bulbs—actually, I couldn’t stop. Now we have so many I can’t count them!”
“From those first few bulb plantings the garden has grown a bit over the years,” adds Del wryly, looking out over the deep curving beds and borders that now accommodate more than 50 varieties of daffodils. “We’ve never had any drawings or plans for the garden, we just keep on adding by feel and sense.”
It’s a scene that literally stops traffic, as passersby pause to take in the bright blooms that sway gently in the breeze, lighting up the front yard and sweeping down each side of the lawn, along paths and around trees. “I love getting reacquainted with all the unusual shapes and shades each spring,” Betty Jean adds.
An abundance of blooms like this naturally lends itself to decorating, but when you’re working with such vivid colours, simplicity is key. The daffodil’s appeal lies in its natural, ingenuous beauty—the last thing you want to do is drown them in fussy, over-designed arrangements. Instead, play up their unpretentious character by gathering blooms in modest bouquets and setting them out in rustic containers, pretty vintage pastel vases, even plain glass—all it takes is a few stems in an old Mason jar to brighten up your space. As hardy as they are uplifting, it’s easy to see why daffodils represent friendship, hope and renewal.
It’s a sensibility the Thompsons foster—their sweet roadside cart, for example, features daffodils for sale in the spring, seasonal flowers like dahlias, peonies and sweet peas throughout summer and pumpkins in the fall. But as the snow melts, cultivating sunshine in their backyard gives the pair all the more reason to look forward to the end of winter. “The lawn seems to dwindle every year,” says Del. “Each spring we look around to see which bed we want to enlarge… again!”
“It always gives me a special thrill when the flowers start to bloom,” comments Betty Jean, adding with a smile, “I’ve never met a daffodil I didn’t like!”