Golden interlopers along the Gorge


Here’s a guest rant from Bob Baxter/co-contributor, Fading Into Myth


Every April in the Greater Niagara area over 2 million
daffodils bloom. This is known as the Festival of Gold because the
daffodils are yellow. The origin of the festival is fading into the mists of
antiquity (20 years ago?) which undoubtedly pleases those who dreamed it up.

They promoted it as a contemporary magic, desperate but
hopeful: our failing post-industrial region could reclaim its economic
prosperity by planting Gold—people would then flock here to see all the
daffodils and spend their money. "Wow, honey! Look at all the daffodils!
Where's my wallet?"  Guess what? The magic didn't work.

But daffodils are still everywhere, along parkways, randomly
popping up in April long before the crush of tourists begin to arrive, in State
Parks, along routes through the countryside, beyond the mowed area at
crossroads. The silliest location for daffodils is at DeVeaux Woods State Park,
where clumps of these alien blooms dot the border of the old growth forest
there along the rim of the Niagara gorge.

Can you imagine a more incongruous or sillier way to mark
the existence of an old growth forest which for hundreds of years has nourished
its flora atop a gorge thousands of years old? Who sanctioned this daffy
daffodil planting?

The daffodil originated in Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
How appropriate. Why not plant Giant Russian Hogweed? They are much more
dramatic, sometimes over ten feet tall, with blooms nearly two feet in diameter.
And they are self-propagating, and toxic, too. We are, after all, home to Love
Canal. And early pioneers raised pigs here. The Hogweed Festival! I can hear
the hog-calling contests now, and imagine the great smells from pork chop BBQ
stands that will pop up as numerous as daffodils.

Though I would never do such a thing, nor recommend it to
anyone else, a few quarts of waste oil poured judiciously around those old growth daffodils would solve that problem. That would be nothing compared to
the oil in the Gulf. It would be nothing compared to the 231,769 tons
of carbon emissions from vehicles using the gorge parkway, nothing to the tons
of winter salt spread there. These pollutants routinely wash into our unique
gorge landscapes now, where cedars hundreds of years old cling to life on the
cliffs. This doesn't seem to bother too many people, certainly not those early
daffodil visionaries.

Learn more about these issues by visiting Niagara Heritage
; contact Bob Baxter at erbaxter(at) Photo courtesy Niagara County Parks.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. If daffodils, the sameness of the same thing bores, irritates you, do not come to Puercorico, USA, contaminated with palms, chefferas, acaliphas,
    ill kept lawns and what else, believe it or not, hedges with FICUS, in every
    imaginable context!

  2. I think the saddest alien incursion I have seen is the prickly pear cactus (opuntia) in Sicily. I totally see your point about the daffodils, but I also don’t think they’re a strong enough species to truly invade the gorge. I’ve seen worse plants than that–much more capable of spreading–during walks there.

  3. Count your lucky stars. In North Carolina the powers that be borrow money and build convention centers, basketball arenas and Nascar Hall of Fame buildings with borrowed money in order to boost tourism. Guess what? Those things don’t work in this economy, and we are left holding a huge tax bill at year’s end to foot the bill for it. I wish they had just planted daffodils. Wanna trade tax bills?

  4. I’m with you on the daffodils, Bob. With so many native plants to choose from, including spring ephimerals, it seems silly to go with a non-native.

    On the positive side, even though they are perennials, I don’t think daffs have the persistence to rank as truely invasive. Here in Massachusetts, we have a long lost of prohibited plants. We also have Queen Anne’s lace everywhere, which is non-native, but according to a member of IPANE who lectured in my area some time ago, Queen Anne’s doesn’t actually persist in the landscape given enough time, and therefore it is not of the same level of concern as Japanese knotweed, Japanese barberry, giant hogweed, etc.

  5. Die hard daffodil lover. Daffs = Spring. Millions of Daffs would be a reason I would pick spring to visit Niagra Falls if I would visit. And if I lived there it would definately be a pick-me-up after a long winter to drive past them on way to and from work.

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