IT IS wild daffodil time again. “When daffodils begin to peer, with heigh! The doxy over the dale: why then comes in the sweet of the year, for the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.”
Shakespeare felt the urge. So did British rail half a century ago.
They ran ‘Daffodil Specials on Sunday out of Paddington to the Golden Triangle in Hereford and Gloucestershire. Famous engines such as Edward I dressed overall in green and gold pulled people from the satanic city into the fresh air every year from 1931-1959.
Those were the days, before Beeching and Gromoxone.
One smashed up the branch lines, the other destroyed the lenter lilies. Lake District’s wild daffodils are still there, but so is Wordsworth.
Everybody has heard of him. But how many have heard of the Dymock Poets, who lived among what used to be huge colonies of our native daffodil?
The water meadows of the Teme and Severn were gold in spring.
When the Specials had unfurled their banners of steam down the Vale of the White Horse at Wantage and on to Stroud, there would be villagers ready in the meadows with bunches of wild daffodils for the tourists to take home.
All is not lost. Sussex has its own colonies and you can see them next week if not now already, at one hundred different places in the county.
They are spread across the meadows east of Petworth. There are three million of them close to my home in West Dean woods, part of the nature reserve owned by West Dean Estate and managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
A bridle path runs right past them so you can see the very best of Narcissus pseudo-narcissus all around your feet.
The walk and parking for the walk is described in my 52 Sussex Walks book published last year and available at bookshops.
These are ‘real’ daffodils, not the overblown trumpets trashed as vulgar by Philip Larkin.
Those are interbred urbans with narcissistic pose on roundabouts and they are flashy and ephemeral. Yey I love them.
They capture golden days in the drear of winter and their sunlight strikes sparks of hope that a new year is on its way, hooray.