The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. —Isaiah 35:1

The desert “rose” of Isaiah 35:1, according to Biblical scholars, is most likely the Bunchflower daffodil or narcissus. (The original text uses the Hebrew word for “bulb.”) Known to botanists as Narcissus tazetta, this is the original type from which our familiar narcissus derives. The narcissus grows abundantly on the plain of Sharon as well as in Jerusalem, Jericho, and other Biblical cities. The plant root was chopped and applied externally to abscesses, boils and other skin complaints. It was also widely used in perfumery.

Today, a large number of varieties are available. Plant narcissus, daffodils, and jonquils in early autumn. Leave the bulbs in the ground for four to five years before lifting, dividing, and replanting. You may also force bulbs indoors.