MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 31, 2014

Blooming jonquils: Flower program first proposed in 2012

By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer

— Little yellow bugles are blooming across Fort Gibson.

They’re popping up around Centennial Park, Robert S. Langston Memorial Park, the Q.B. Boydstun Library, plus businesses and homes. They are the blossoms of 2,000 jonquil bulbs planted last fall.

The jonquils are the first of the “First Community, First to Bloom” program proposed in 2012 by Fort Gibson residents Carol Corley and Tim Smith.

“We were the first to bloom on the prairie,” Corley said, adding that jonquils are the first flowers to bloom each spring.

Established in 1824, Fort Gibson was the first U.S. military post in Oklahoma, according to writings of historian Grant Foreman.

The town that grew up around the post drew military families, Cherokees and African-Americans, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Smith, commander of American Legion Post 20, said the flowers “look like little bugles.”

They’re also what Corley said was her favorite flower.

The yellow flowers, which also can be compared to old fashioned candlestick telephones, are part of the genus narcissus.

“Sometimes a daffodil is called a jonquil,” said Muskogee County OSU Extension Agent Mandy Blocker.

“A jonquil is in the same botanical family as a daffodil.”

Blocker said jonquils tend to be smaller, more fragrant flowers.

“The cost-effectiveness of this project will multiply as bulbs split into two to five flowers,” Smith said.

As a result, the bulbs planted last fall could yield twice as many flowers next year, he said.

Between 75 and 100 bulbs were planted last fall at Centennial Park, and 250 bulbs were planted in Langston Park, he said.

Cold temperatures extending into March made Fort Gibson’s jonquils bloom later this spring than Smith and Corley said they expected.

Dots of yellow began appearing throughout the town in late March.

Corley, owner of Granny’s Porch antiques, said they are already planning for more bulbs this fall.

She keeps a potted jonquil by her front counter with the sign “ask about this flower.”

“They ask and I tell them,” she said, adding that promoters hope to raise money to plant 10,000 bulbs this fall.

“We also are encouraging people from Fort Gibson to plant their own bulbs,” she said.

Who knows? Fort Gibson’s jonquils could be as famous as Muskogee’s azaleas.

“We’re hoping for a jonquil festival in April of 2016,” Smith said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee

phoenix.com.