With the advent of spring, just around the corner, many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are awaiting the prospect of warmer temperatures with anticipation. One sure sign of spring is the first peek of spring bulbs poking their green shoots above the soil after their long winter hibernation.
Spring bulbs of any sort remain some of my most favourite flowers, from the humble crocus which is first, to the highly scented hyacinth, to my favourites of all, the jonquil and the daffodil. Who has not seen fields and fields of wild daffodils in pictures or in real life and not been impressed? Or, who has not smelt the heady scent of its cousin the jonquil and not thought instantly of spring?
No matter what you call them either narcissus or daffodils these flowers signify spring the most to me. There was always what seemed to be an eternal wait after winter to see their green shoots either in pots or clumps in the garden and then for them to grow and bloom in the most wonderful shades of white, yellow and orange.
Narcissus is the botanic name for this genus of mainly hardy, mostly spring-flowering, bulbs in the Amaryllis family native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. With several 100 different types it is one of the most prolific of spring bulbs.
It is surprising of how many of the spring bulbs whose names have come from or have been inspired by Greek mythology. Hyacinth, crocus, and anemone all have origins steeped in legend and mythology, which appeals to my romantic side. None so more, as the narcissus. Narcissus or Narkissos (Greek: Νάρκισσος), is possibly derived from ναρκη (narke) meaning "sleep or numbness," In Greek mythology Narcissus was a hunter from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. Being exceptionally proud he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the waters and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died. Another version has it that he fell into the water and drowned as he tried to embrace his own image. In both versions, the Narcissus plant first sprang from where he died.
The subject of many paintings and artists renderings the legend has served as the inspiration for many, including Carravagio, Waterhouse and Dali with each treating the subject in quite different ways.
Photographs and modern day interpretations also abound of the legend. I am always amazed at how artists take a subject and make it their own, and wish that I had the talent!
However, the myth has also given us Narcissism the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness, which is something that Savoir Faire does not condone in any form.
Hopefully Spring is being embraced with the bloom of the narcissus in some form!