I am embarrassed to admit that my daffodils are flagrantly promiscuous. They flaunt their petals and coronae for every passing insect. I have always been curious about how successful these displays really are. My younger friends tell me that the website Hot or Not was once all the rage. Apparently, if one was curious, one could upload a photograph and be informed by unemployed twenty-year-olds whether one was “hot” or “not.” Fortunately, I do not need to rely on these tastemakers. Instead, I can measure the ova of my daffodils. If, after several weeks of winking at bees, these ova are enlarged, I know that my daffodils are “hot.”
Unfortunately, this year I was leaving town just as my daffodils’ blooms were opening. My husband suggested I ask a friend to measure the daffodil ova for me. This friend is a British scientist with advanced degrees from Oxford and his own calipers. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to call and ask him to take measurements while I was away. I kept imagining the neighbors, then the police, then the Immigration and Naturalization Service questioning him:
Q: And why were you crawling around on the lawn?
A: I was trying to see whether the daffodils were pregnant.
You can see how this could end badly.
So I missed the initial measurement. But when I returned, after several weeks of bee solicitation, the ovum on this, and many other daffodils in the garden, are tellingly enlarged. Beneath each flower is an ovum, pregnant with seeds. If planted, and allowed to grow for five to seven years, each seed will one day become a seductive daffodil, like its mother.
–Grace Zimmer, Grace Notes from the Garden