The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Seeding Sustainability at the 2019 Annual Daffodil Planting

students planting daffodil bulbs
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On a crisp November morning under a bluebird sky, surrounded by bare trees that have just dropped the last of their crinkled brown leaves, the last thing most of us are thinking about is the beautiful flowers that will fill the campus next spring. 

However, this is exactly what a handful of students came out to do on the morning of Saturday, November 2nd. With the help and leadership of Jen Konieczny, a horticulturist for the UMass Landscape Management department, roughly five-hundred daffodil bulbs were planted in the beds scattered throughout the Commonwealth Honors College residential area. 

For the next few months, the bulbs will remain cozily tucked away in the soil, protected from the wind, ice, and snow of winter. When the chill gives way to warmth and gentle rain showers next spring, the bulbs will yawn and stretch themselves out into the world, unfurling their radiant yellow flowers for all to see. In late April and early May, the campus will be alive with a rainbow of colors from the daffodils, tulips, and other annuals that the landscaping department works tirelessly to maintain. 

daffodil bulbs going into the ground

As part of this tradition upheld by UMass Commonwealth Honors College, students are offered the opportunity each November to be a part of this process. Lizzy Howland, a sophomore biomedical engineering student who attended Saturday’s event, explained that she wanted to help with the planting because “we get to benefit from our work by enjoying a beautiful campus in the spring.” Henry Li, a sophomore computer science student, described the experience as “therapeutic” and “calming.” In these ways, the fall bulb event “plants the seed” for what will bloom in the spring. 

The daffodil event also connects with the annual Daffodil Lecture given each spring, offering students an opportunity to engage with and reflect upon sustainability on campus and beyond. With the blooming of the bulbs, the Honors College hosts a guest speaker to highlight a relevant sustainability topic. Last year, Dr. Christine Crago, a professor in the UMass Resource Economics Department, discussed the impact of policy on sustainable energy and fuel consumption. Other past lecturers have presented on urban biodiversity, indigenous rights and decolonization, the legacy of conservationist Rachel Carson. The speaker for the spring 2020 Daffodil Lecture will be announced this winter. 

Thank you to Jen Konieczny for your help and instruction, to CHC events coordinator Ashley Braziel for organizing this event, and to all of those who joined us in making the spring campus a brighter, more beautiful place.