If you are a gardener there’s not a great deal to do in September. The days are shorter and cooler than they were in August and plants are beginning to die off or preparing to ‘sleep’ through the winter.
You may think that now you can rest, however there is still some work to be done. If you grow your own food then now is the time to harvest. And, if you grow ornamental flowers then September is when you should begin planting bulbs so that your garden is colourful next spring.
One bulb you should plant in the early autumn is the daffodil. The bulb contains all the nutrients a daffodil needs to grow its roots. In the cooler months a daffodil will generate a network of roots below the soil before the plant itself bursts forth in spring.
As well as developing from bulbs, daffodils can also grow from seeds. These come from fertilised flowers which fruit. The seeds are small and protected by a hard black coat and they’re a lot harder to grow than bulbs!
We’ve been cultivating daffodils for a long time. The ancient Romans grew them and extracted the sap which they thought had healing powers. They may not have been too far from the mark – scientists have now discovered that daffodils contain narciclasine, a natural compound used to treat various forms of cancer. Another thing found in daffodils is lycorine. But far from being a medicine, this is a poison. It’s so harmful that it will kill other plants placed in the same vase as a daffodil so be sure to display them on their own!
It may be due to the lycorine, or it may be superstition, but some poultry keepers believe that daffodils will stop hens from laying. The belief has never been proved. There are some other superstitions about daffodils. In the West some people think they are unlucky but in China, if you can get it to bloom at the time of the New Year (late January or early February) then a daffodil will bring good fortune to your house.
It’s also a symbolic flower. The daffodil was chosen as Wales’ national emblem and, to the Victorians, it represented chivalry. In modern symbolism though it is said to represent hope – most likely because it is a symbol of rebirth after the dark and cold of winter.
Do you have a favourite flower? If so, tell Education Quizzes what it is by filling in the comments box below and we may write an article about it – all thanks to you!