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Noon Edition

Narcissus

Mohammed said, "Let him who hath two loaves sell one and buy the flower narcissus: for bread is but food for the body, whereas narcissus is food for the soul."

The genus "narcissus" includes daffodils and jonquils. A daffodil has a trumpet that is as long as or longer than the surrounding petals.

The bulbs are available in garden centers in the fall and it is fun to plant different varieties and colors. Select some from each of the early, mid and late spring bloomers for a long sequence of bloom. Then, if late winter storms ruin your early bloomers, you won't be completely bereft. Jonquils are late bloomers, have shallow cups rather than trumpets, are fragrant and cluster on one stem.

Narcissus bulbs are poisonous so thankfully deer avoid them. They do best in sun tolerate some shade and need good drainage. The foliage is unsightly as it dies down, but is needed to store food for the following year's bloom. Disguise it by planting narcissus with perennials such as day lilies. It is interesting that daffodils caused the first wildlife protection legislation.

During the reign of the Stuarts in England, the picking of wild daffodils to be sold at court, caused a public outcry. Laws were then passed to protect these native plants. In Roman times, one of the medicinal uses of narcissus bulbs was to grind them to make a salve to heal the wounds of gladiators.

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