The Daffodil Thief

Many people are obsessed with particular flowers.

Daffodils, oil on canvas

History is peppered with stories of the adventures of people following a flower obsession. Tulip bulbs were at one time more valuable than the currency of The Netherlands.  Instead of Dutch coins, you paid with tulip bulbs!  It became so serious the government had to deploy armed guards around the tulip fields.

On a recent visit to Light Trap Books in Downtown Jackson, TN, proprietor Lauren Smothers suggested I might like reading Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief. While the main story revolves around the life of a colorful orchid expert in Florida, the author goes into great detail about the history of orchids.  Orchid societies abound all over the world to feed the obsession of orchid aficionados. More on that in an upcoming episode!

Reading that book led me to look at my own flower obsessions.  I have to say obsessions because I have never settled on just one flower.  As a child I was obsessed with daffodils for a while. I loved their bright sunny faces that told me that spring was almost here. One spring I lusted after the daffodils that had sprung up all over a neighbor’s yard. There were bunches and bunches of them. I must have been about 6 years old.  I couldn’t resist.  I walked right over there and picked myself a large bouquet of the gorgeous blossoms.

Daffodils, watercolor on paper

Needless to say, my mother was appalled that I would do such a thing.  She made me take my whole bouquet back to the neighbor’s house, knock on the door and apologize for my theft. I cried all the way over to the neighbor’s house and could not summon up the courage to knock on the door.  I put the bouquet down on her porch and ran all the way home.  My mother never asked what the neighbor said and I never told her what I had done. Whenever I see daffodils, I think of the shame of a little girl who acted on her obsession with daffodils. I don’t think I have had the urge to steal flowers from someone else’s garden since. 

However, I do still have flower obsessions! Do you?

Author: MaryGwyn

Artist-Art Educator-Art in Healthcare

10 thoughts on “The Daffodil Thief”

  1. When we were little, all the kids in my neighborhood, loved buttercups. I don’t see them anymore, but we would pick one and hold it under our chins to see it it looked like sunshine. LOL I LOVE flowers, all of them. Your story was wonderful

    1. I couldn’t resist flowers myself, and as a very young child I wandered the neighborhood alone picking everyone’s blooms, to my eternal shame! I was only four ( what a different time that was). I think my mother didn’t want to yell at the smiling face who brought her mama flowers. She was too gentle with her admonitions not to go into other people’s yards. It ended badly when my naughtiness prompted me to pick a neighbor’s prize lilies. When she came over to scold me, there the lilies were, in a vase. I remember hiding. She was really mad!!!The last flower I stole was a red tulip but the thrill was gone. I was developing a conscience. FINALLY.
      Now I plant thousands of daffodils and daisies and roses, and don’t care who wants to pick them. My kids have picked huge bouquets, making lovely arrangements. Flowers are too lovely not to share!!!

      1. I completely agree that flowers are too lovely not to share!! That’s one of the biggest reasons I love teaching Botanical-style art. Most of my workshop participants are fellow flower lovers and learn so much from! A love the flower thief stories!! I was probably saved from any more thieving by being allowed to roam freely in my grandmother’s huge flower garden. Still have so many happy memories of wandering in her garden! Thank you so much for the comment! I can picture that little flower thief!!

  2. Those too were my favorite flowers. I live in central Florida now and they do not grow here or if they do I have never seen any in the 20 yrs I have lived in Florida. I also loved tulips and tiger lilies!!

    1. I believe it’s possible to order daffodil bulbs and chill them in the fridge, then plant them outdoors. Then after the foliage dies back (it takes *forever*) they can be removed and rechilled. Actually, that’s the part I’m a little unsure about…if that’s technically forcing them and if the bulbs are viable.
      I also grow paperwhites, or Tazettas at Christmas time. These are semi- tropical so I don’t see why they wouldn’t grow in the southern U.S. Check Brent and Becky bulbs. They are not expensive and a very charming place.

      1. That sounds like a great way to have them in Florida. I lived in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Boca Raton and missed my Tennessee flowers. But I had a great learning all the new ones there. And they grow so fast in Florida!!!

  3. Yes! Flowers…endlessly intriguing! I have such fond memories of the flowers my mother grew when i was a child – lupins, forget-me-nots, roses, camelias…gardening and cooking are what brings her happiness and that is powerfully contagious for a child…but an addiction I am pleased to have!

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