I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
—William Wordsworth Longfellow
If the poet, William Wordsworth Longfellow, wandered in the “daffodil fields” of Broadway resident, Donald Showalter, his heart would have been joyful, indeed! Many “hosts of golden daffodils flutter and dance in the breeze” along the road and behind the Broadway Avenue house.
By chance, I picked the most beautiful evening in March to wander through the four acres of budding and blooming flowers at the Showalter place. The temperature hovered in the mid-60s, and the bright sunshine reflected off the dazzling, yellow daffodils. Spring was peeping around the corner, and the flower garden popped with color. Like me, you might have often noticed the golden blooms by the road in front of the Showalter house. For many years I have admired the carpet of yellow I could see from my car window, but I had no idea that the beauty extended far beyond my limited view. Always the gracious tour guide, Showalter stopped often to let me admire the gorgeous beds of flowers. “We planted 500-800 bulbs a year for many years,” said Showalter. “There are about 10,000 bulbs in the ground now.” When Showalter and his late wife, Marlene, moved back to Broadway in 1965, the ground behind their house was hard and the soil was lacking nutrients to grow luscious plants. “We worked at it summer by summer,” says Showalter. “We started digging by hand and planted a bed at a time.”
Their diligence and hard work paid off. Today, all four acres behind the house blaze with color. The assortment of flowers planted there bloom throughout most of the year. But this it the time for the daffodils to shine. Showalter has many varieties of daffodils, many of them blossoming at different times during the spring. We paused at each variation of daffodil, and Showalter told me their names and unique features. He also explained that voles, squirrels, deer, rabbits, and other pesky animals don’t eat daffodils. So they are the perfect plant for rural areas. The Showalter Garden holds more than daffodils. There are tulips, roses–including beautiful Lenten Roses–herbs, rare trees, and more. There is even a daylily variety named after Showater’s wife. Local garden expert, Andre Viette gave the graceful flower the name “Marlene’s Delight.” Showalter credits his love for gardening to his father, former Broadway Drug Store owner and pharmacist Carl Showalter. “I spent a lot of time in the garden as a child.” His family also visited famous gardens during summer vacations.
In his eighth decade of life, Showalter is still involved with his law firm Whatron, Aldhizer, and Weaver. He smiled when he remembered his wife’s comment about his career as an attorney. “Marlene used to accuse me of working just to support my gardening habit.” And perhaps I will wax poetic and think along with Longfellow: “For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. As spring comes and goes, the Showalter garden will pass through different flowering stages. I will definitely look out my car window as I pass by, curious to see what lovely colors are blooming at the moment.