Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, March 29, 2010

Situational Narcissus

Ice Follies

Have you noticed there's a theme running
through the garden blogasphere lately?
Words like beautiful, gorgeous, stunning and breathtaking
are being bandied about.

The Narcissus in my garden are convinced
that you must be talking about them.
They just can't get beyond their self besotted hearts
to believe that others might be talking
about something unrelated to them.
Like their own sweet gardens.

Pretty little crocus across the path

Or, that their gardener,
might be pointing out
a pretty little crocus across the path or
a hellebore that looks particularly lovely.

Golden Lotus Strain looking particularly lovely

It's true~~
Narcissus are beautiful,
some times quite gorgeous and often splendid.
When you see them massed you can't help feeling delighted.
Even wishing for more!
Of course they have big, beautiful flower heads!
Perhaps, delving into their history can help us understand
their "It's all about me!" perspective!

Want to know a secret?
I look marvelous!

We have to go way back in time,
when the Greeks and Romans worshipped the gods of Olympus
and when great story tellers like Ovid reveled in mythic tales of their deeds.
Let me remind you that any time the gods mixed with mere mortals...
it rarely ended well for the mortals.

Poor Narcissus

Like all tales that involve the gods, the story of Narcissus is a bit complicated. The whys and wherefores of his birth are not necessary to this telling. Let's just say that Narcissus was a handsome youth who loved to wander through the Roman woodland, but, was never to know how beautiful he was~He broke a lot of hearts, but, then he was an adolescent and rarely thought of the consequences of his behavior. Unfortunately, he broke Echo's heart and in the process she lost her voice forever~ Of course, she begged and pleaded for the gods to intervene and they severely punished poor, beautiful Narcissus. This is where the story changes depending upon who tells it ~The vindictive godess, Nemesis, made him fall in love with his reflection in a pool (remember, he didn't know himself) and in his yearning for the beauty in the water, he leaned too far in and drowned. Echo, being a very co-dependent maiden prayed for him and a flower was said to spring from the ground where his dead body lay.

Of course that flower was ~the Narcissus!

With a history like that,
is it any wonder that conversations begun with
"The garden looks fantastic!"
Or, heaven forbid, any sighs of contentment,
would lead my Narcissus (plural and singular)
to conclude, that all attention is on them.
Could this be Situational Narcissus Narcissism?

"Isn't my cup the prettiest orange in the garden!"

I suppose, as the gardener here at Clay and Limestone,
I bear some responsibility.
After all, I do rather make over them and
ooh and aah at their peccadilloes.
Perhaps, it's my secret admiration for their verve
that has encouraged Narcissus' narcissism to grow!

They can be a tad unsympathetic and have been known to
down play the achievements of their neighbors.
Take Diane~
A lovely Hamamelis with an unfortunate habit
of hiding her light under a bushel.
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'
We can thank the cold weather for her continued blooms
and for crisping up the leaves and causing them to finally drop off!

You see, shy Diane's leaves
wait to fall off, well after her flowers dry up.
But, not this year.
The Big Freeze in February has crumpled them away
to reveal Diane's gorgeousness to all.
Great cause for celebration at C&L!

But, my dear Narcissus were a bit sulky and
complained that the weather,
which had helped Diane make a splash, had
delayed their own grand entrance into spring.

Lovely Eric Smithii hellebores , but don't let the Narcissus hear that!

What can I say ~~
They are such drama queens...
It's genetic...

I fear, it's going to get worse....
Any day the Spring Crescendo will begin!
There is only room for one strong ego at a time
at Clay and Limestone!

here for the story of Hedge's rise to power
and here for an explanation of how he continues to rule

Hedge is in full bloom!

It will be the clash of the Titans at Clay and Limestone!

Are you having a little late winter or early spring drama in your garden?



  1. What shall I say? I was a bit depressed that the post was over soon. It was like reading a nice novel - you want to get to the end of it but after it ends, you'd feel bad that it's ended soon.
    Nice blog, Gail. I can help using the word 'Stunning' for your photos and of course, 'Gorgeous' and 'Wonderful', and, 'Lovely', and... gosh I have so many adjectives to describe the shots!
    Poor Narcissus! I pity for him sometimes, but thank him for leave behind such a handsome bloom.

  2. Gail,
    Such a delight to see these vivid yellows celebrating the return of spring. Though the Golden Lotus Strain Hellebore does tug at one's heartstrings. Your bottle tree looks beautiful against the forsythia hedge. What a gorgeous spring awakening, Gail.

  3. Beautiful, gorgeous, stunning and breathtaking well... amazing too


    Thank you for a most delightful walk with you through your garden Gail.

    Happy Easter! / Tyra

  4. We can certainly induldge the Narcissus' love of itself, frankly I love them too. At least we know that long before we get tired of seeing them, they go away and await the time next year when we will need their beauty the most.

  5. Gail,
    Enjoyed your post and all the photos were wonderful. Your have some real nice hellebores there!

  6. You are a great story teller Gail. I loved the clash of the Titans. That lotus hellebore is to die for. Narcissus should have seen that. Ha...

  7. Gorgeous spring flowers! I love the narcissus falling on his face, just like the myth! LOL!

  8. Wonderful mythology references! You have a nice display on beautiful (and all the other adjectives) blooms. I do love the blue bottle tree in front of the Hedge.

    My garden is still a few weeks away from spring peak. Just a little phlox, loropetalum and scabiosa in bloom. My daffodils are a later variety to coincide with lavender, dianthus and roses. In another 5 years, I will probably have something for early spring! I think it takes a least a decade to build a garden.

  9. Things are definitely shaping up around here! This week looks like a good one - time to get outdoors and play in the dirt.

  10. Daffs really do it for me. And I want to put more in in the fall. The bottle tree with the Forsythia is stunning! H.

  11. Well, we had two weeks of early spring, and are now getting the cold temps and wet weather of late winter. :) I guess it just proves that Nature has her own timetable.

    Your narcissus are beautiful...but don't tell them I said that, lest it should go to their perfect orange heads! Hee!

  12. Oooo, will this be a double-decker Helen comment? Must write quickly!

    Gail, your garden looks unfairly lovely, and full of spring. I've never seen a bottle tree look so wow! as your blue bottles against Hedge.

    My only daffs are some heavy-headed 'Rip Van Winkle' whose tendency to immediately fall flat on their face makes them more like Nar-sissies! Love your collection.

  13. Lovely, Gail! I adore those ericsmithii hellebores (the "faded bloom" color is gorgeous, too!) and the bulbs... but the thing I love the most from this post is that you kept Hedge. :)

    (And I adore your bottle tree, btw...)

  14. No drama in the Bliss garden so far but i had a bit of a drama with my Russian Blue cat Merlin who was at death's door recently. He's much better now I'm happy to say.

    Gail,your garden looks lovely, particularly the daffodowndillies, they are 1 of my fav flowers.

    PS Love the bottle tree, cannot find blue bottles here for love nor money.

  15. What a fun post Gail. I had forgotten the story about Narcissus. You have some beauties there (even the non-narcissus kind). Mine have almost finished their time in the spotlight. Now I'm just waiting for the iris and roses. Maybe in a couple of weeks.

  16. Good morning Gail. I'm afraid, like Echo, I love the Narcissus. But I'm fickle too and tend to love whatever is blooming.

    Can't wait to see some blooms here. The weather is looking good all week so it may not be much longer.

  17. Hi Gail,

    Interesting Post with wonderful pictures! Enjoyed every bit of the Narcissus Narcissism :):)
    Cheers! Radhika

  18. This post made me smile this morning! :D Your narcissus has good right to admire itself! Love your hamamelis photos as well!

  19. What a fun post, Gail! You have drama of mythic proportions going on in your garden:) It's no wonder the narcissus are a tad bit...narcissistic...they are so beautiful and such a welcome sight this time of year. Mine have finally begun to bloom, but since they don't have anything to compete with them yet, they're getting all the attention right now.

    Isn't spring a wonderful time?!

  20. Wonderful pics and post. The hellebores are stunning. jim

  21. What a fun write up -- I love the myths and legends of ancient Greek and Roman gods and godesses. Your take on poor Narcissus in the puddle is a riot.
    I guess you are able to type a little more these days? How is the healing process coming?
    Your trio of Hellebores are beauties.

  22. Love those hellebores! And you beat me to the punch, as I wanted to say something about daffodils being narcissists, LOL. Well, you have a lot of competition in your garden for them, maybe they'll become a bit more humble.

  23. I think I need a lie down after all that drama. But it all looks smashing at Clay & Limestone. I love Narcissuses, not just because they look so good, but also because the deer don't eat them!

  24. I am sooo waiting for that drama episode to be extended to my back yard!

  25. Better that words like beautiful and gorgeous be bandied about the blogosphere than words like dreary, snowy, and wool socks weather. No daffs here, just snow, snow, snow.

    Christine in Alaska

  26. What a wonderful clash to have happening! Your garden is living up to the hyperbole that is flying around. Enjoy!!

  27. What can I say? Your garden looks fabulous as usual but the Springing of all the lovelies could make ones heart go THUMP, THUMP in admiration.
    Love it.

  28. Get the referee's out there, this does look like the fight of the century. Wonder who is going to win?


  29. Gosh, yes, drama in the garden. Epic battles, clashes, sparring, blooms competing with one another for our attention. It's an amazing adventure anytime we step out into our gardens!

  30. Good thing the pea hen is gone -- there would be too many things competing for your attention otherwise.

  31. aloha gail,

    you are an amazing story teller, i loved how you wrapped up your myths to your beautiful showstoppers all the way until the climax at the end with your everblooming and gorgeous bottle tree and forsythia shrubs....bravo!

  32. Loved your version of the classic tale and poor Narcissus flopped over onto his reflection: fabulous!

  33. Love that blue bottle-tree against the yellow backdrop of forsythia! Those words are by people so sick and tired of the winter months and not being in the Garden. I can say, Fantastic, Wonderful, Beautiful at any given moment now… By summer, the words will change to Rain, Hot, Hose, Muggy, Sticky, etc…

  34. A great and fanciful tale and all of my narcissus are now looking like that fated one. Oh, and I am reading that you are traveling to Malvern? What fun! I can't wait to hear your tales. I am sure you will fit in a garden or two.

  35. Oh, Honey, that was so darling. The photo of the Narcissus with its head in the water was priceless as was the psychological analysis. I love that applied to Greco-Roman myth. You are a delight, and I'm grateful you're my friend.~~Dee

  36. I love that blue bottle tree against the yellow Hedge, Gail. Beautiful contrast!

  37. I was going to ask about THE hedge but you sure answered the question. Poor Narcissus have to compete with that stunning yellow! Loved your story. Also Narcissus' story. It's no wonder they are so flashy. They are just so darned easy too. I just scheduled my 'river of daffy's' for Friday. Those Ice follies can't be beat. They are all so stunning this year and well deserving of their status at C & L!

    Meant to tell you to try the dark colored japonicas for no brown tip. The lighter colored ones seem to be the worse. Also, the north side of a house is an excellent spot.

  38. Gail,
    No plant, nor blossom is safe in the quest for the perfect blog illustration....poor Narcissus. Oh Gail, I so long for more blossoms - your's are the next best thing. Thank you!

  39. I think that with looks like that, the Narcissus can be allowed to be a little narcissistic. Lovely.

  40. Nice photos and prose, Gail. Narcissus are definitely it's all about me" flowers. Maybe that's why I like them so much.

  41. Oh goodness, I'd never thought about all of our spring bulbs duking it out in the Clash of the Titans -- a brilliant post!


  42. What a delightful read, Gail! Your imagination is a treat. I laughed out loud at Echo as a "co-dependent maiden." ;)

  43. gail,
    shhh! don't tell but i am loving the hellebores so much. they have the loveliest little petals. mine are blooming as well and i am going to add many more this year.
    happy springtime.

  44. This post really has it all, Gail - especially beautiful blooms. I'm impressed that you have such a great variety in color and size in your narcissi!

  45. Well, the Narcissus are right, they do look marvelous. Is your 'Diane' as pink as she looks in the pictures.

    (btw, the leaves just fell off my Witch Hazel too -- a good month or more after she finished blooming. lol)

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