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Daffodil Festival Brightens a Sun Valley Spring
Sunday, May 8, 2022


They sweated when the daffodils began blooming in March after a couple of unseasonably warm days. And then they squirmed some more as a foot of snow covered the flowers a month later.

But on Saturday, Jen Smith and her staff at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden beamed as a couple hundred people turned out for the inaugural Wood River Daffodil Festival.

“I’d say about 80 percent of the daffodils have bloomed. It’s great to see this much color early in the season. And the elk don’t like to eat these because they’re poisonous. So, we should see them return year after year,” said Smith.

The seed for the festival was planted in a conversation between garden landscaper Dean Hernandez and  Marty Lyon, chairman of the board of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden for five years and a member of the board at the Senior Connection for the past four years.

“We were wondering what we could do to grow awareness of the Sawtooth Botanical Garden and the Senior Connection and increase revenue—the garden is so underutilized in spring,” said Lyon. “Dean said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to plant some bulbs since we don’t have any in our garden. I was born and raised in Tacoma where we had a daffodil festival every April. And, so, I said, ‘Why not daffodils!”

The Sawtooth Botanical Garden ordered five pallets of bulbs, then stored them inside the visitor center for several months waiting for the appropriate time to plant them. Then, a hundred volunteers from second-graders up to members of the Senior Connection turned out last fall to plant 30,000 bulbs, which were paid for in part by an $11,400 gift from the AARP.

This is phase one of a multiyear program, said Lyon. He hopes to raise money to buy additional bulbs to plant in the five-acre garden next fall. And he eventually hopes to see 100,000 bulbs lining the valley between Bellevue and Sun Valley. Since daffodils multiply, they will add to themselves, he added.

There are more than 13,000 daffodils varieties in existence so the possibilities are endless, with peach-colored daffodils, candy red-and-white daffodils and more. And, according to florist Sue Bridgman, daffodils are well suited to the Wood River Valley’s climate.

Mardi Shepard, who was among those who sponsored bulbs, recounted how in California missionaries planted yellow mustard to guide missionaries between missions.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity to bring everyone back together,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a wave of daffodils lining the highway all the way from the blinking light at Timmerman Hill to Sun Valley? We would have to offer plane rides so people could see them from above!”

The Caritas Chorale sang several flower-related songs, including “I plant You a Garden” as a smattering of snowflakes fell from the otherwise sunny sky.

“What’s the old saying: If you plant them, they will bloom?” said Shelley Seibel, a trustee at The Senior Connection. “We were hopeful they would bloom and they did,” said Shelley Seibel

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