Group Wants to Plant Thousands of Daffodils Along Marathon Route

From Hopkinton to Boston, the yellow flowers will line the roadway as a tribute to the victims of the bombing.

The change in the number of runners won’t be the only new addition to the Boston Marathon next year.

If Diane Valle can get it done, the areas lining the marathon route from Hopkinton to Boylston Street will be covered in a blanket of yellow formed by the thousands of daffodils she plans to plant in order to preserve “the spirit of the Boston Marathon and Boston Strong” while celebrating the arrival of spring.

Valle, of Charlestown, has formed a group now known as the Marathon Daffodils, a collaboration of nonprofit organizations, gardeners, cities, towns, and businesses that will set out and plant hundreds of thousands of bulbs in the ground this fall so they will bloom come April 15, 2014. “We were all affected by the bombing—it was so tragic for so many people. And as the days and weeks went on I said ‘it would be really nice to do something for next year,’” said Valle. “So I decided I wanted to plant daffodils. It’s a feel good, win-win project.”

Last fall, Valle planted more than 13,000 daffodils with members of The Friends of North End Park as part of a spring project to bring life to part of the city along the Greenway.

Inspired by how successful the project was, and how beautiful the flower arrangement looked, she decided that bringing the symbolism of the yellow flowers to marathon runners would be encouraging, especially in the aftermath of the attack at the finish line.

After running the plan by members of the “horticultural world,” and getting the support of all the communities that the marathon runners pass through, Valle decided to form the Marathon Daffodils group and begin the project. “Of course, we will require Mother Nature to cooperate—it is Boston, after all. So whenever they come up they will come up, but we are hoping for them to come up on marathon weekend,” she said.

Working with a supplier, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Valle said they are going to buy and plant 100,000 bulbs in various cities and towns in October and November with the help of volunteers. Currently, they have eight “captains” for eight different communities that are working with landowners to see if they can make the route yellow.

While they have a full team dedicated to the project, Valle welcomes anyone who wants to get involved, especially when it comes to fundraising. So far, they have received support from the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, New England Wildflower Society, The Garden Club Federation, The Town of Brookline Parks, and The Charles River Conservancy.

To pull it all off, the group of volunteers need to raise roughly $26,000—or, $1,000 for every mile of the marathon route—so the sidelines of the roadway can flourish in the yellow of the daffodils. She said there would be no cost for labor or planting the bulbs because the project is on a volunteer basis.

Those interested in helping it grow financially can make donations at the Cooperative Bank in Charlestown, where a private account for the project has been set up and is accepting funds.

While she admits there will be challenges, including finding the right spot to plant so the flowers don’t get trampled by spectators, Valle said she picked daffodils for this particular project for a few reasons. “They are straight, bright yellow daffodils, which works well because it’s the color of the marathon logo, and they are symbolic of hope,” she said. “We are hoping it will be a nice way to welcome people to Boston, and help to lift up peoples’ spirits for next year’s race.”