There’s Still Hope for the ‘Marathon Daffodil’ Project

The flowers have started to poke through the cold, hard ground, and could be in full bloom come race day.

Photo via Marathon Daffodils

Photo via Marathon Daffodils

The city and surrounding suburbs almost fell prey to a spring snowstorm on Wednesday, but luckily for a project that’s paying homage to this year’s Boston Marathon runners and last year’s victims, the snow accumulation was nil.

“Today was a good day because we didn’t get snow,” said Diane Valle, the force behind the Boston Marathon Daffodils project, a group of volunteers that planted 100,000 daffodil bulbs along the marathon race route.

Valle was nervous that a blanket of light snow could have delayed the arrival of the flowers, which she said will hopefully blossom in time for April 21, but she is staying optimistic that warmer weather will soon approach. “You’ve got to believe. We have no other choice except to have hope,” she said.

Last August, Valle put a call out for volunteers interested in helping her set-up a sort of memorial in the form of daffodils, stretching from the starting line in Hopkinton all the way to Boylston Street. Valle worked with flower supplier Brent and Becky’s Bulbs to complete the project, and she relied on the help of in-kind donations, which she said ended up exceeding expectations. The idea to plant the bulbs was inspired by a similar one she took part in last year, when more than 13,000 daffodils were planted with members of The Friends of North End Park as part of a spring project along the Greenway.

After news spread about what she was doing for this year’s race, Valle said she was overwhelmed by the amount of volunteers who stepped up to help complete the mission of planting flower beds in every community that runners will pass through on Marathon Monday. “We had such an outpouring of support that I couldn’t even count how many people there were. It’s been so heartwarming how many people were willing to participate,” she said.

Eight captains took charge to make sure flowers were embedded in the dirt in all eight communities and secured in areas where they won’t be trampled by spectators. The plan was simply to have the group plant as many bulbs as possible, cross their fingers, and hope Mother Nature was on their side. A tumultuous winter season left Valle and members of the group skeptical at first, but the cold hasn’t been enough to stop the first signs of spring—and the growth of flowers—from cropping up.

Last week, Valle shared this photo of some of the daffodils that they had planted earlier in the season with Boston :


Photo provided by Diane Valle

She said the heads of the flowers poking through the dirt near Boylston Street is an encouraging sign that things are going as planned. “Boston weather is always difficult to predict, but somehow, someway, April does come, and the daffodils will bloom, so we have a few more weeks and we are hoping they will be ready. We gave it our best effort and will see how it goes as it gets closer,” she said. “I have had reports that they are poking up in other locations. I’d like to say they are becoming stronger, but we have to rely on Mother Nature.”

Since the marathon falls one week later than it did in 2013, Valle thinks that will also give the flowers a little more time to grow. “We hope it helps.”

Besides what was put in the ground, Valle said businesses have come forward to help get the flowers passed around to both race participants and people standing by to cheer on runners on April 21. “The Massachusetts Flower Association has been growing some daffodils for us, and they will distribute those at the finish line area since there aren’t many places to plant. Hopefully people will see those flowers on the day of the race every time they go to a store or restaurant. They will be sort of an extension of the ones planted,” she said.

As for people actually racing: “I hope as they run by the flower beds it inspires them to get to Boston,” she said.