Daffodils Bloom Early on Nantucket

Daffodils have been blooming on the island since mid-February, giving those of us who spend the Quiet Season on Nantucket cheery reminders that spring is near.  We also wonder whether enough daffodils will be in bloom on Nantucket during that favorite island festival at the end of April to satisfy the celebrants.  Will Daffodil Festival organizers will be reduced to sneaking out early on the morning of April 27 to plant potted daffys along the roadsides?

To find out what we might expect for Daffodil Festival Weekend and the annual Nantucket Garden Club Daffodil Show, we chatted with Nantucket’s daffodil expert, Mary Malavase.  Her initial reply: “It’s gonna be interesting.”

“The ones blooming now at the Rotary,” she told us, “are an early variety (as most of the yellows are), and they benefit from the heat of the paving.”  She also mentioned that some daffodils that are planted in sheltered, sunny spots such as against foundations also come up earlier than others.  “We may have the chance to see varieties that bloom later at the show this year … a lot of the pink and all white daffodils are later varieties.  Tazettas and some Division 3s bloom later and are rarely in our show.  It depends on the weather, so this year you may see varieties in the show that you’ve never seen before.  Every year is different: some years there are a lot of yellow and oranges, this year we may have pinks and whites. It really will be interesting and very pretty.”

When the Nantucket Garden Club organized the planting of the Fairgrounds Road Bike Path and along Polpis Road, they choose early, mid-season, and late season varieties so that islanders and visitors would enjoy about six weeks of bloom.

Malavase also reminded us that island weather can get quite chilly in March and April. Cool weather will slow the daffodils, but won’t kill them.  “They’re pretty tough!  They love spring rain and cool nights.”

If you’ve thought about entering the Daffodil Show with a prized bloom, a flower arrangement, or a photograph of daffodils, the Garden Club is offering a workshop on Saturday, April 14. They’ll teach how to stage and enter daffodils, and they’ll offer tips for creating an arrangement.

As Mary Malavase says: “Once you enter and get a ribbon, you’re hooked.”