Volunteers plant 16k tulips, daffodils at I-40

Motorists entering and exiting Interstate-40/75 at the North Campbell Station Road interchange saw orange Sunday, Nov. 20.

About 60 Keep Knoxville Beautiful volunteers, wearing orange safety vests, planted about 16,000 daffodil and tulip bulbs along the ramps at the interstate.

Next spring, Bud McKelvey, Farragut Public Works director, said volunteers would be able to see the results of their labor.

“We couldn’t do [the project] without [KKB’s] help,” McKelvey said. “We’re very grateful they are here.

“What they don’t get done today, my guys will put in later.”

Volunteers planted the bulbs in nine beds on both sides of the Interstate. The planting was a project that was coordinated between town of Farragut and KKB, Jennifer Brown, Farragut Public Works administrative assistant, said.

“We’ve partnered with the town of Farragut to plant up to 16,000 daffodil and tulip bulbs today,” Patience Melnik, Keep Knoxville Beautiful executive director, said.

“We reached out to [KKB] and they were gracious enough to help us,” Brown said. “This will help us tremendously.”

“We’re loving it,” Kimberly Peterson, troop leader for Girl Scout Troop 20450 from Episcopal School of Knoxville, said. Seven members of her troop came to plant bulbs.

“It’s a perfect day for this,” Peterson said. “The girls are really enjoying it.”

Laura Lyons, KKB volunteer, said her helping KKB on Nov. 20 was a way to get involved after moving to the area six months ago, and Laszlo Toser, The University of Tennessee student, said he was volunteering for a geology class assignment.

McKelvey said he has wanted to do a landscaping project at the Interstate exits for about 15 years. Last year, the project was included in the Town’s Capital Improvement Plan budget.

“This [bulb planting] is all part of the I-40/75 and Campbell Station Road beautification project,” Brown said.

“We waited for [Tennessee Department of Transportation] to redo the ramps at the interchange,” McKelvey said.

Another part of the landscaping project included contracting with Little Green Garden for $29,000 to plant shrubbery and trees on the ramps, McKelvey said.

He got the idea to plant the bulbs on the ramps after hearing Melnik give a presentation at an Optimist Club of West Knoxville meeting.

“I was telling the group about our work last year — we planted 60,000 daffodil bulbs at I-275 on Baxter, Woodland and Heiskell exits,” Melnik said. “So he asked us to help, and we said we would be happy to.”

Farragut Public Works staff and some volunteers prepared holes for the bulbs before Keep Knoxville Beautiful volunteers arrived on the scene.

“We’re getting the holes ready, and they are going to get all the bulbs in behind us,” Chad Whitener, Farragut Public Works crewmember, said.

They had help from some Lenoir City Middle School National Junior Honor Society members volunteers.