One million golden daffodils will adorn the median strips and highway banks of four major roads leading into Baltimore if a beautification project dubbed "Operation Daffodils" proves successful.
The Maryland Daffodil Society is sponsoring the project in cooperation with a citizens committee called Beautiful Baltimore, Windmill Garden Centers and Suburban Trust Bank.
Operation Daffodil's goal is to plant one million daffodil bulbs over a two-year period. This fall, the group hopes to raise $25,000 to plant the first 100,000 flowers.
The inspiration for the daffodil display came to Dutch horticulturist Maurice van Trigt when The Baltimore Evening Sun's garden editor Francis Rackemann Jr., was visiting him in Holland last year.
"In Holland, practically every traffic circle has a whole mass of daffodils," said Rackemann, who founded Beautiful Baltimore, Inc., in 1971 and was responsible for having 400 hanging plant baskets installed on light poles in downtown Baltimore.
When the garden editor admired the Dutch blossoms, van Tright said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Baltimroe had a million daffodils?" Rackemann recalled.
The Maryland Daffodil Society expressed enthusiasm over the idea, and Operation Daffodils was born. Baltimore recreation and park officials selected sites for planting along, the four major entrances to the city, including the Baltimore Washington Parkway.
Van Tright, who heads a Dutch landscaping firm that operates the Windmill Garden Centers in Maryland, launched the campaign this month by donating 5,000 daffodils C&P Telephone donated another 1,000 bulbs, and some private contributions have come in.
The purchase and planting of each bulb costs 25 cents. The Carleton variety has been selected, and once planted will multiply through the years. The daffodils would bloom annually, requiring little, if any, maintenance.
"Daffodils bloom for two to three weeks in the spring," noted Rackemann, who said the massive daffodil display would begin in mid-March. "It's such a beautiful sight to see masses of color."
Rackemann admits that, at first, the response to Operation Daffodil's fundraising appeal was mixed. But beautification booths at a recent city fair drew enthusiastic response for the budding project.
"After a cold winter, nothing is more attractive than a little bit of color," he said.
Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to Operation Daffodils, Suburban Trust Bank, P.O. Box 236, Baltimore, Md., 21203. Checks should be made payable to Beautiful Baltimore-Daffodil Project.