Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Trail of Flowers - Planting daffodils

Trail of Flowers volunteers digging out an area 70 feet long, four feet 
wide and six inches deep for the daffodil planting. That's a lot of dirt!
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, under a rain-threatening sky, sixteen volunteers put in a morning of digging and digging and digging at the Marble Farm historic site in order to plant an estimated 900 daffodil bulbs. This was the inaugural effort of a program to turn the Assabet River Rail Trail [www.arrtinc.org] into a Trail of Flowers. In the following week hundreds more daffodils to be planted at various locations along the trail, bringing the total to 1,600 bulbs.

The idea is that each fall, thousands of flowering bulbs will be planted at locations adjacent to the trail, so that in the spring, there will be weeks of flowers. Daffodils were chosen for this site because its location at the north border of Maynard, puts it square where deer would eat any planted tulips. More central to town there will also be tulip planting, and perhaps mixes of smaller bulbs such as snowdrops and crocuses. People who's backyards border the trail will be asked to plant bulbs, flowering annuals and perennials at the back of their properties.

David Mark, founder of Trail of
Flowers, stands next to a daffodil
sculpture he created for the planting
event. It will reappear at flowering
 time. The house foundation is beyond
 the stone wall.
In time, plantings may extend to Acton (and even to the south part of the trail, in Hudson and Marlborough). The trail will become a springtime destination for trail walkers, runners and bicyclists from other towns, perhaps including a stop at one of Maynard's cafes.

A giant daffodil: To spice up the planting event, a giant daffodil sculpture was created from a Christmas tree stand, fence post, six pieces of plywood painted yellow and a plastic flower pot painted orange. The sculpture will put in appearances at future events - in time perhaps to be joined by a giant tulip.

Marble Farm: For those who are not familiar with the recently completed section of the Assabet River Rail Trail that crosses Maynard and extends north into Acton, it passes a location across Route 27 from Christmas Motors that was settled by the Marble family circa 1705. There is a plaque at the site with description and photos. Briefly, the family lived at the site, in the same house, for more than 200 years (the house burned in 1924). What remains is impressive stone walls and the stone foundation of the house. The latter is too overgrown at the moment to get more than a glimpse of, but if the entire site was cleared, made safe, and maintained, it could become an addition to Maynard's 'pocket parks,' joining Carbone and Tobin Parks as small greenspace gems.     

Group photo before the digging started. Click on photos
to enlarge. Before this project started the grassy area
where people are standing was overgrown with Oriental
bittersweet, blackberry and sumac. 
Spring Flower Walk: Flowers are expected to be blooming from late March into early May. In April there will be an organized flower-viewing rail trail walk from downtown Maynard to the site. The walk will pass by the intersection of Summer, Maple and Brooks Streets, which includes Maplebrook Park, a garden maintained by Maynard Community Gardeners dating back to 1995. 

The launch of this project was made possible by generous donations from Maynard Community Gardeners and the Assabet River Rail Trail organization. The Town of Maynard approved this use of the Marble Farm site, which is town-owned land. Thanks to all who made this possible. Think spring!

Mysterious iron ring, now painted orange

Archeological finds: While digging out the bulb bed were limited to a few glass fragments, a few colonial or post-colonial pottery shards and one half-pint, clear-glass bottle with seams down both sides (meaning machine-made rather than blown), with no brand or maker marks in the glass. Anchored into the ground in the middle of the flat area now planted with grass is this mysterious iron ring, which is about four inches across. Previous finds from the foundation include beer bottles and a horse shoe. Non-archeological finds include Bud Lite beer cans and nips bottles. Bricks from the two collapsed chimneys, remnants of the 1924 fire that destroyed the house, were used to create the base of the bricked path that now connects the Rail Trail to the historical site lawn where the daffodils were planted. (Bricks from a chimney teardown elsewhere were used for the surface of that path.)

Progress: As of 10/27, 1300 planted, 700 to go. Numbers not always in accord in this and the volunteers needed columns because original order was for 2,000 daffodils, shipper sent 1,600 in time for planting on 10/20 and the rest were cancelled. But then the shipper sent the remaining 400. Not charged for and not required to return. Hence, 2,000. More holes to dig. 

As of 11/17, about 1,950 planted, remaining 150 discarded. Turns out the supplier over-fills the bags, so '100' is often 110-120 bulbs per bag. Subtracting discards (damaged or fungus-rotted), so best estimate for received total was 2,100. Locations: Marble Farm site, behind Cumberland Farms gas station, intersection of Summer, Maple and Brooks streets, and a few surprise spots. 

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