Planting a sea of red and white

A 150 Celebration Garden was awarded to the Intergenerational Garden in Maple Ridge for Canada's 150th birthday celebration.

Marg Spratt

Marg Spratt

A sea of red and white will wash over Maple Ridge’s Intergenerational Garden next spring in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.

The garden was the recipient of one of 150 Celebration Gardens bulb packages being distributed across the country by the Canadian Garden Council, a body for provincial and national garden organizations.

The package was made up of 1,000 tulip bulbs, 500 red and 500 white, which have been planted by students and volunteers this month in the garden at the corner of Edge Street and 121Avenue.

“We were very happy to be chosen because they only chose 150 winners to tie in the 150 theme,” said garden coordinator Heather Jonatschick.

Winning applicants were evaluated on the inclusiveness of their gardens, accessibility to the public and how their Canada 150 garden would be recognized.

There were 400 applications.

Ten volunteers were in the local garden Saturday, planting 500 bulbs. They had to do a fall cleanup of the perennial beds in the front of the garden in order to fit the bulbs in.

Last week, 15 classes made up of 25 to 30 students each from Eric Langton elementary and St. Patrick’s School planted bulbs in the student plots. Each class has their own flower bed and every student got to plant a bulb.

The remaining five beds are community plots, which are rented out to various members of the community who apply to get a garden space.

“One of them has done a huge display in her bed of her own bulbs that are all going to be red and white,” said Jonatschick.

“So we will have [tulips] interspersed throughout the garden and the class beds and then we will have a nice display out front,” she added.

Tulips are the international symbol of friendship and speak to Canada’s kindness and hospitality.

All 150 gardens across the country will be symbolically linked to a Flagship 150th Celebration Garden Promenade, made up of 25,000 tulip bulbs located next  to Niagara Falls in Ontario.

The tulips being planted are a mid-bloom variety, meaning that they should be ready at the end of March or the beginning of April, providing the winter is not too harsh this year.

Jonatschick said tulips are also easy to grow.

“They need to be down at least three times the size of the height of the bulb. So, our tulips need to be planted six to eight inches below the ground level,” explained Jonatschick, adding that if they are not low enough, there are a couple of things that could happen to the flower.

“If we have a hard winter and there’s lots of freezing, they could freeze and not come up. Squirrels sometimes dig them up. And, the only other thing, I find, if you don’t do the right planting when they do grow, they tend to flop over a little easier,” said Jonatschick.

Senior volunteers are excited about being a part of the celebration and put up Canadian flags in the garden while planting on Saturday.

“It’s so significant because in such a special year. It brings us all back to remembering how important it is to celebrate who we are and the diversity in what we bring,” said Jonatschick.

Every garden that was the recipient of bulbs is required to hold a blooming ceremony.

Jonatschick is going to wait until February, when the bulbs are expected to start sprouting and poking through the soil, before she starts making plans for an official ceremony.

“We won’t pick a date until we make it through winter and we see how winter is,” said Jonatschick.

“It’s hard to plan in advance only because, if we have a long winter, they will bloom later,” she continued.

The ceremonies will take place on different dates across the country due to the different weather conditions and resulting bloom times.

The blooming ceremony will be considered a lead up event to both Earth Day and Canada Day.

The Intergenerational Garden will also be included on the Great Canadian Road Trip, a map of all the winning gardens across the country.

But the emphasis of the project is not strictly on the tulips. It has brought seniors together.

“Yesterday, it was so nice to see everyone having such a good time and that community spirit was there,” said Jonatschick.

“For us to have the seniors teaching the children about gardening and now also having them be a part of Canada’s birthday, it’s such a big celebration. It’s a day when everybody is proud to be Canadian. It’s so fantastic,” Jonatschick said.

The Pitt Meadows Community Garden also won a package of tulip bulbs.

• For a list of the winning gardens go to