In the heart of Ashland, Kentucky’s Central Park, a breathtaking sea of daffodils dances in the spring breeze, a vibrant tribute to the enduring spirit of community and the vision I held dear. Yet, behind the delicate petals lies a story of resilience, remembrance, and the unwavering commitment to honor cherished memories.

The tale of the Memorial Millennial Meadow traces its roots back to 1999 when I embarked on a master gardener course that ignited a spark of inspiration within me. Disenchanted with the mundane gardening projects suggested by the course, the idea of creating a sanctuary of solace, bedecked with daffodils, took root in my heart – a tribute to the everlasting legacy of loved ones lost and the desire to craft something profound in their honor.

I had spent many a cadet weekend at Harkness park in Connecticut were there was a field of randomly planted daffodils. It was close enough to the Coast Guard Academy that I could ride my bike there, but far enough away that I was unlikely to run into any upperclass cadets. I wanted something like here. Something that would bring joy for centuries.

For me, this project held profound personal significance, born from the heartache of losing my beloved companion, Chip, to a cruel, personal poisoning act because I was a veterinarian. The anguish of that loss lingered for years, propelling me to channel my grief into a venture that transcended the constraints of time and space.

Thus, armed with determination and fueled by a profound sense of purpose, the odyssey of the Memorial Millennial Meadow commenced. Yet, it was not devoid of trials. Bureaucratic barriers and financial hurdles threatened to thwart the project at every juncture. Nevertheless, undeterred by adversity, I rallied the support needed.

Katana Bowling made multiple calls to the city and park board before they finally allowed us to do the project that they then spent the next two decades taking credit for. We tried fund raising, but hundreds of fliers brought in less than $100. I decided to take my own money and buy bulbs. There was a lady around Knoxville, Tennessee that was doing a similar daffodil project on the highways there and supplied us with low cost bulbs. I remember that we paid 25 cents a bulb.

Turns out that I was needed for a cave survey for endangered bats. The two hour cave tour turned out to be about eight hours. My husband, Matt, continued to Tennessee to pick up the 12 thousand daffodils. (The next year, Dr Ann Craig would pick up another batch.) We had green bulb crates everywhere for years. Master Gardeners planted, Ramey’s Home kids came and helped, we got girl scouts to come and help and I met with school kids to plant more bulbs after the original planting. Cathy
Shaffer then at the Ashland Independent and Ernie Tucker from Ashland Community College joined the team the next year. Kurt and Carla Jaenicke donated money for a second planting the next year. Dr Jaenicke’s staff and Ernie Tucker’s classes showed up to help plant. Since the initial planting, I have gone back and split some bulb groups and opened up the planned paths. Occasionally, girl scouts were supposed to help, but my daughter said she is the only one that helped and it wasn’t optional.

Lately, the daffodils take care of themselves. I never needed to take credit for the daffodils until and increasing amount of credit was assigned elsewhere. The proclamation by the mayor was given to the Master Gardener Club and I asked multiple times to finally got a poorly copied Xerox. In following years, the city government and the park board took increasing credit, forgetting that they had been strongly against the original project. I and others started correcting the misinformation about the beginning of the daffodils.

Now, as the Meadow approaches its 25th anniversary, the journey returns full circle as I am celebrated at the Highland’s Museum Daffodil Spring-tacular on March 24th. I will be getting an award at the Highland’s Museum Daffodil Spring-tacular on March 24th. Norma Meeks called to invite me to attend high tea complete with spring finery. I knew that because, I had made a small fuss about who deserved credit, I must attend even though fancy dress is not exactly my cup of tea. However, a volunteer trip to Saipan meant I would trade derby style hats and white gloves for a surgical cap and surgery gloves. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely honored to be awarded the first annual award!
While unable to attend the high tea event, I will be present at the daffodil stroll, eager to partake in the festivities and bask in the warmth of community spirit. Okay, so the YMCA is calling the Sunday March 17th 3pm walk the Daffodil Spring-tacular Family walk, but for me four months out from knee replacement, I know it will be a stroll, but I will be there and walk because the next day I will be getting on an airplane for the 30 hour trip to Saipan.

Over the years, the daffodils seem to bring such happiness and joy to everyone. I’m proud of my part of Memorial Millennial Meadow. I can now think of Chip without intense pain, but I’m glad something good came out of his death. Stephen Covey talks about a need for legacy and that was part of my drive for this project, but it turns out that I was pregnant and spawn brings their own legacy.