garden parties and daffodils

Garden parties and potlucks are a great combination.

columbine with late narcissus in mid-May

columbine with late narcissus in mid-May

Where I live everyone knows what a big potluck means–the kind where the invitation makes it clear that it’s for everyone you know, and everyone they know, and anyone who happens to drive past…and so on–basically it’s an open house, only all the guests bring something to eat or drink.

solomon seal with bench

solomon seal, forget-me-not and wild phlox with a very fancy bench (polygonatum, myosotis, phlox divaricata) mid-May

So the host does not have to cook, and in my community people are good about cleaning up afterward and watching their children so no one tramples the tulips or wanders into the electric fence.

It’s wonderful motivation to get the garden in shape. I never weed more enthusiastically than the few weeks before a garden party. I give some tours (not really my favorite thing, I will admit) but after  awhile I encourage people to wander around on their own. Last May I announced a “first annual” Mother’s Day noon potluck garden party to admire the daffodils.

double white

double white and friends

This year we’re doing it again, and I am already preparing. I figure it is an easy date to remember, and you can always bring your mother, and still have time to take her out for dinner later. Hopefully the weather will be OK.

A few years ago I ordered the “golden legacy” narcissus collection from White Flower Farm.



It’s 100 bulbs of all different kinds for 100 bucks from the bulbs collected or cultivated by Karl van der Veek. By now each bulb has become a clump. There are tiny ones and huge ones, singles and doubles, white, yellow, orange, pink, split cup and trumpet –it’s a wonderful collection.

By Mother’s day all the early bloomers are gone, and we are nearing the end of the narcissus season, but there are other attractions and plenty of late-blooming ones to admire.


a crowd of narcissus April 11 photo

The year I planted all these bulbs I waited until late in the fall, as usual, because of the demands of getting the semester started, and by the 50th bulb or so I was cold and tired of looking for pretty spots for each one. So I planted the last 50 pretty much all in one spot. Now it’s a crowd, and I plan to divide and relocate half of them after the party.


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