Garnett Wharfe daffodil planting

Back in the spring some Otley residents brought an idea to OiB to plant bulbs on the south side of the Wharfe. Hence our little advert was born to bring us all together around this simple plan in recognition of the past 18 months:

“As a memorial to those who died, suffered and still suffer from Covid, Otley in Bloom will be coordinating a “cloud-planting” of 2,000 daffodils this autumn. It will be on the river bank beneath the trees, between Buon Apps and Tittybottle Park. For many people this was a place of regular exercise and contact (if only briefly or with a smile) during the pandemic. We have selected a mix of varieties to provide an extended flowering season and we hope that over the years the cloud will naturalise and grow thicker.”

The journey to complete this project had a series of steps throughout the summer. We started off by asking David Wilson’s management if we could carry out a planting under the trees and explained why. We are very grateful that they agreed.

We sized the long narrow plot to estimate how many bulbs we would need. 2,000 was the answer so we ordered 2,000 mixed daffodil bulbs. In the late summer we announced our plans in the local papers and on Facebook.

We consulted with the residents’ committee of Garnett Wharfe and they supported the idea. Finally the bulbs turned up. Do you know how a big a pile 2,000 bulbs make? The ground next to the river under the trees was rock hard but getting softer as the autumn rains began. The group decided to break the planting into three sessions with one on a Sunday to allow weekday workers to take part.

On the whole the weather stayed nice. The ground was especially full of builder’s rubble and, in places, solid concrete, but over three digs spanning two weeks we got it done. Hopefully the spring will show how well it worked without the bulbs getting in the way of the paddleboarders, the picnickers and everyone else.