The Daffodils of Lodi - A Living Memorial

The Daffodils of Lodi - A Living Memorial

Part of Ep. 1802 Asparagus, Grass & Daffodils

On a spring visit to Lodi, Ryan stops to enjoy the daffodils and discovers how the community banded together to create a living memorial with the bright yellow blooms. Bill Haupt explains how the daffodils memorialize Dr. Lyle "Doc" Bohlman, a beloved resident known for the thousands of daffodils planted in his front yard.

Premiere date: Mar 31, 2010

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
I'm in Lodi, Wisconsin, famous for Susie the Duck but soon to be famous for, well, their daffodils. I'm talking with Bill Haupt. Bill is the former publisher and editor of the "Lodi Enterprise" newspaper. The daffodils tie-in with a tribute you paid to a friend. Why don't you tell me about that? 

Bill Haupt:
In January of 2007, Lyle Bohlman died. Lyle lived in Lodi for more than 40 years as a practicing dentist and also sort of as a practicing environmentalist. I think he established a legacy of environmental citizenship through his work on the Park Commission with the trees and was well-known in the community also for daffodils that were planted in his front yard. They would bloom every spring and become a rite of spring in Lodi when those daffodils would arrive every April.

Shelley:
So we're not talking about ten or 20 daffodils. 

Bill:
It seemed like 10,000 or 20,000. It might have been a couple thousand it's pretty substantial. It's enough to draw attention, right on Highway 60, so its a very visible spot in the community. So when he died I was involved, I'm very close to Doc and Helen and ultimately to the family members who are distant. Three children, and I was with the three children.

Shelley:
Lyle's nickname is Doc.

Bill:
Yeah, I should probably mention that, yeah. Right, I think his real name is Lyle.

(both laugh)

So we wanted to recognize and memorialize Lyle, Doc in a way that we felt was appropriate. So I actually prepared his obituary and asked that if people wanted to memorialize him, that they send money and we would establish a daffodil fund and try to brighten the community through his memory. So that's what we did.

Shelley:
And this was a success?

Bill:
I think so.

Shelley:
So, when the money came in you didn't go and dig up the daffodils from his front yard but you went and purchased the same ones where he bought them.

Bill:
Right, we had contributions of about $3,500

Shelley:
Wow.

Bill:
So we had a pretty good starting point. We didn't know what we could do for $3,500. I knew nothing about gardening. I've been pretty clear with you about that, up front. But we were insistent on buying very quality bulbs, which Helen had purchased from a nursery in Washington state.

Shelley:
These are the ones she planted in their front yard.

Bill:
Right, they were very good, and they were also expensive relative to what you pay for other bulbs. So the bottom line is, we had enough money that we could buy about 10,000 bulbs, plus transport them, because it's 33 cents a bulb and 17 cents-- it's about 50 cents per bulb. So for 10,000, you can get twice as many.

Shelley:
A lot of bulbs.

Bill:
We had a little more money, we got 10,000 bulbs. We thought, what would 10,000 bulbs look like?

Shelley:
And what do they look like? Where did you plant all these as a memorial?

Bill:
Well, the idea was to decorate the community and make it a community project. So we took 5,000 of the bulbs and formed partnerships with the school district. We have different school campuses. We have an elementary, a primary, a high school and a middle school so we had team leaders at each of those schools. And so we worked through those people and we gave them each 1,250 bulbs.

Shelley:
Just a few.

Bill:
We gave more, 2,500, to the elementary school, because that's on Highway 60 when you enter Lodi and it continues from Lyle and Helen's house to the "Welcome to Lodi" sign past the school. We could have 5,000 bulbs planted in that stretch of perhaps half a mile.

Shelley:
So you've got them, basically people can drive or walk almost anywhere in Lodi and remember this man and his family. 

Bill:
Well, it's not so much to remember him and the family, although that's appropriate, just to remember anyone in your family, and others or to walk down the street, just like you do all the time. In this park, you see things and don't know who created them but it's sure nice here, isn't it?

Shelley:
And it's a living memorial to people that have helped.

Bill:
It's a recognition of the past, but it's also a rebirth for the future. I think it's uplifting for a lot of people, and people genuinely say, "Well, this is nice."

Shelley:
You've got the high school kids and the community involved in planting all this stuff, too.

Bill:
We've involved hundreds of students, which I think was the objective to give young people the opportunity. I say this as a non-gardener. To give young people the opportunity to physically put a bulb in the ground and take some propriety.

Shelley:
Learn a little bit about gardening, too.

Bill:
And have a sense, just from my own experience, it's really heightened my interest in gardening.

Shelley:
Oh, good!

Bill:
And I see it with young people, too I pay attention to when the buds appear when the blooms appear, what time of the year it is, where there's a shaded area, where there's a sunny area, things that I never thought about before. But if I can think about it, so can all these young people. And we've also had a couple of public planting days to plant in our parks. We've had two of those, and we've had 40 volunteers on each occasion who have agreed to plant. Somebody has to plant these bulbs. Our high-end costs are transportation and bulbs, and we've spent nothing on labor! But we have a lot of labor and that saves us.

Shelley:
I think it is a great memorial to Doc, to Lyle, and something for Lodi to be proud of. I think you're giving Susie the Duck a run for her money!

(both laugh)

Bill:
Well, we'd rather just give Susie a daffodil.

Shelley:
I think that's great! Thank you, Bill.

Bill:
Thank you very much, appreciate your interest.

Shelley:
What a wonderful way to honor the memory of a special person. Now whenever I see daffodils, I'll think of Doc Bohlman.

Thanks for joining me today. For more information and recipes please check our Web site at: wpt.org/garden I'm Shelley Ryan. Thanks for watching the Wisconsin Gardener.

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