Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Neighbourhoods set to blossom

Volunteers to give away daffodil bulbs

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It's an idea Derek Yarnell hopes will take root and start growing.

No, really.

Yarnell will give away 2,000 daffodil bulbs for his first-ever Winnipeg Bulb Project, a non-profit, volunteer-driven initiative to put flowers in gardens and yards in the North End and downtown.

The bulbs will be handed out today from noon to 5 p.m. at the Fall Festival at the North Centennial Recreation and Leisure Facility at 90 Sinclair St.

'It's going to give people a little sunshine in spring, brighten their day and the neighbourhood' -- Coun. Mike Pagtakhan

They are in 12-bulb bags and come with planting instructions.

Yarnell said the project "aims to connect people living in urban neighbourhoods with nature, one bulb at a time."

"This is just a tiny drop in the bucket to get people to work toward (being) more connected to nature," said the 42-year-old, who grew up in Winnipeg and recently moved back, with husband Stewart, after 25 years in Toronto.

"People need to be encouraged. It's just not enough to tell people in lower-income areas of the city that they should get out and do more and plant. To just say that is nothing. I wanted to figure out a way to facilitate it."

He encourages people to plant the bulbs in their front yards or a public space so they are shared by the whole community.

People are invited to post photos on the Winnipeg Bulb Project's Facebook page.

"I applaud Mr. Yarnell for this project and for taking the initiative and spreading the joy of flowers so people can enjoy them," said Coun. Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas), noting he has perennials throughout his own front yard.

"It's going to give people a little sunshine in spring, brighten their day and the neighbourhood."

Yarnell rallied a group of 14 people who gathered last Sunday around a backyard fireplace at his home and put 2,000 bulbs into packages.

The bulbs were purchased through donations and Yarnell's employer, Direct Focus, donated supplies and time for Yarnell and co-workers to create a logo, a banner and labels for the bags. All the money raised, about $500, was used to purchase the bulbs.

He said he chose the spring-blooming bulbs because they are reliable, easy-to-grow perennials that are easy to plant, even for inexperienced gardeners.

"I picked daffodils in particular because you just dig a hole, bury them and water them and they'll come back," he said. "Daffodils, unlike tulips, will multiply year after year, which is very rewarding. And deer and squirrels don't like them, which is one less risk factor involved."

Yarnell said he will grow the project in the future if it takes root this year.

"Hopefully, I can get up to 10,000 bulbs next year. But for the first year for the project, and the first year for me living in the city after being away for so long, my goal was really just to do it this year. We'll do it better and bigger in future years."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 A10

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