Last fall, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens joined a host of other Mainers in planting daffodils, a flower chosen by the Maine movement in 1919. Suffragists would take bouquets to lobby legislators, hand them out at rallies, and supporters of the cause wore daffodils in their lapels.
While Maine was early in its support of the 19th amendment, it wasn’t officially adopted as part of the U.S. Constitution until August, 1920. However, the daffodils are blooming now and would have made a stirring anniversary tribute had the Gardens been able to open as usual on April 15.
Undaunted by delays caused by a global pandemic, essential staff at the Gardens aren’t letting those blooms go unseen. Staff horticulturist Lesley Paxson and Youth & Family Program Coordinator, Erika Huber, cut a variety of daffodils and jonquils this week and devised a delivery plan.
“I got the idea for sharing our flowers with others in our community from the Tulsa Botanic Garden who had done something similar with their tulips at the end of March,” Huber says.
“Connecting people to plants and nature is what we do at the Gardens,” says Paxson. “Erika and I have been working together to reach out to local groups within our community here on the Boothbay peninsula and in Damariscotta. We find ourselves in such strange times, but luckily, Mother Nature seems immune.” Indeed, per all reports, the Gardens is bursting with color.
“It saddens everyone at CMBG that we can’t invite our community to see this abundance, so the next best thing is to bring the abundance to the community,” continues Paxson. She and Huber have spent the last few days cutting hundreds of daffodils, filling buckets, and starting deliveries. “So far, we’ve been distributing them to senior living facilities such as Edgecomb Green and The Lincoln Home as well as to essential workers who are taking care of all of us.”
Recent recipients include Hannaford and general stores, Pinkham’s Seafood, Lincoln Health, the Boothbay Region Health Center, and Boothbay Region Elementary and High School cafeteria employees. “We are also distributing daffodils to community members through the Boothbay Region Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, school lunches, the weekend lunch distribution at the YMCA, and customers at Nathan’s Pharmacy,” continues Huber.
Future plans include sharing tulips and other blooms. “We’re so grateful for the people on the front lines,” Paxson says. “And we’re grateful we can do something in return, dropping off these bright yellow thank-you blooms.” With so many worthy recipients, “the list seems to grow every day,” concludes Paxson. “This is such a challenging time for everybody, and we’re just so very happy to be able to bring in a little bit of brightness with some flowers.”
The Gardens will remain closed, due to COVID-19 and out of concern for the safety of the community, until at least May 31. Working in accordance with Governor Janet Mills’ four-stage plan for restarting Maine’s economy, CMBG will reopen when it safely can. Until then, it continues its “CMBG at Home” initiative, a new online collection of classes, tours, blog posts, articles, photos, and Facebook groups, ensuring that garden lovers can grow their knowledge from home. Visit MaineGardens.org to explore all of CMBG’s online offerings.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a nationally recognized public garden located in Boothbay, Maine. The mission of the Gardens is to inspire meaningful connections among people, plants, and nature through horticulture, education, and research. Its annual visitation includes guests from all fifty states and 65 foreign countries.