Ray Gough and Peter Staskr picking daffodils in Gormanston, Co Meath, yesterday. Mark Condren
THEY were never supposed to arrive so early but, thankfully, the country's daffodil bloom has survived the first serious cold spell of 2012.
Despite temperatures this week dropping to as low as minus 3C, with further punishing conditions anticipated, there is no need to worry about the health of our favourite new year flower.
Daffodils have been emerging since early January, a full month before they traditionally arrive -- the famous yellow flowers duped into believing it was springtime.
But that illusion was shattered earlier this week when our mild winter returned to more familiar ways, with a biting cold front on Wednesday.
"Daffodils are amazingly hardy flowers and that is part of the appeal of them," said Ray Gough, who works on a 40-acre Co Meath farm that is one of five major daffodil suppliers in the country.
"They are the first flowers up (in the year) and I suppose it's something that appeals to the human spirit; it defies what we hate about the winter, the cold and the dark.
"It's probably the wind that affects them more than the cold although a severe, repeated frost will damage the petals."
Last year Mr Gough picked his first daffodil on February 6 -- this year it was January 6.
Earlier "indoor" daffodils sell for between €2.99 and €4.99 for bunches of 10.
Outdoor daffodils, which generally bloom at the end of February, are considerably cheaper, selling at between €1.99 and €2.99.
Shops normally buy from wholesalers at approximately 70pc of the retail price.
Meanwhile, forecasters say Ireland could be in for a brace of the same cold weather that looks certain to envelope the UK next week.
This weekend will likely have typical January weather, hardly mild but nothing like the freezing temperatures expected by our neighbours.
However, by Monday temperatures are expected to drop markedly.