It was 1932. The depth of the Depression in Youngstown. And a group of gardening enthusiasts with the Garden Club of Youngstown planted 8,000 daffodil bulbs in a meadow on the east side of Lake Newport. Was it an effort to provide a break in the gloom of the Depression? Maybe a sign that Youngstown’s economy, and the nation’s, would flourish again? Whatever their hopes, these gardeners established a spring tradition that has lasted over 80 years.
I remember my grandparents taking me to Daffodil Meadow as a child. I don’t think it was called that back then. We just talked about “going to see the daffodils at Lake Newport” and everyone knew what and where you meant. My grandmother loved flowers and one look at the meadow told me this was a place where she was in her glory. I just stared in wonder at how there could be so many of these yellow and sometimes yellow and white flowers and that the bulbs had been underground all winter.
The picture above was taken by my wife when she was fourteen years old in 1968. A visit to see the daffodils was one of the things both our families loved to do every year. Who knows but that we met as kids running among the bunches of flowers or smelling the daffodils? I seem to recall going with more than one girlfriend to see the daffodils in later years.
I wonder if someone has ever done a painting of children frolicking among the daffodils, similar to one of my favorite paintings at the Butler, “In Flanders Fields” by Robert Vonnoh? I know that it is one of the most photographed places in Mill Creek MetroParks and that you can find hundreds of photographs online. Little wonder that Daffodil Meadow was named one of the top places in the country to see daffodils in a 2009 USA Today article, according to a 2010 Vindy.com story.
The story of the Garden Club of Youngstown’s involvement with Daffodil Meadows continues. In 2015, according to a Mill Creek MetroParks article, they collaborated with the MetroParks in funding an improvement project that included additional plantings, including historic daffodil varieties, a facility sign, educational signage, and identification labels during the blooming season. This was in conjunction with their 100th anniversary celebration, which seems to be a fitting way to celebrate their presence and contribution to the Youngstown community.
The daffodils are in bloom in our front garden bed and there seem to be more and more of them each year. When I see them, it takes me back to Daffodil Meadow and all those memories of growing up in Youngstown and visiting Lake Newport each spring. And perhaps the return of the daffodils each spring point to new days of flourishing for Youngstown.
What are your memories of going to see the daffodils by Lake Newport? If you live near Youngstown, will you be visiting Daffodil Meadow this weekend?