Last spring, tender daffodil stalks shot out of the earth and blanketed Pamela Monterosso Park in glorious yellow. During the weekend, a team of volunteers worked to make sure there will be a repeat performance of nature's miracle next year.
Armed with spades, trowels, rakes and shovels, about 80 people descended on the park Saturday to plant 4,000 daffodil bulbs.
Modesto's poet laureate, Ed Bearden, kicked off the day with a poem that included the lines, "A place that has been planted with faith and hope and love will produce exactly those same things — in abundance."
Many of the volunteers were members of the Hope Blooms Garden Club. The club is one of several therapy programs that Memorial Medical Center provides for cancer survivors, caregivers and loved ones. Memorial also offers music, art and writing groups.
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The program helps cancer patients cope with the transition from treatment back to normal life, said Cheryl Casey, outreach coordinator for cancer services. Planting bulbs in the fall and seeing them burst to life in the spring is a life-giving activity for cancer survivors, Casey said.
"The daffodil is a symbol of hope," Casey said. "Some of the cancer survivors, they hope they're going to see springtime."
Garden club member Dan Murray, a prostate cancer survivor, said he felt elated last spring when he spotted the daffodils' golden heads at the corner of Scenic Drive and Coffee Road. "I hope the community, when they drive by, feels an uplifted spirit and they realize what happens here," Murray said.
The Hope Blooms Garden Club works throughout the year at Pamela Monterosso Park, weeding and doing other maintenance.
The park, which opened about a year ago, is maintained almost entirely by volunteers, said Loren Holt, a division manager with the parks department. The city pays the water bill, but volunteers do about 95 percent of the park's upkeep, Holt said. The city wants to set up a program to allow people to adopt trees in the park.
On Saturday, Holt trimmed a green patch of ground cover to make way for daffodil bulbs. He said he was inspired to see people of all ages volunteering. The crowd included an 18-month-old boy scooping up dirt next to his 4-year-old sister. Nearby were Cub Scouts in uniform, members of the Modesto disc golf club and gray-haired women in floral print garden gloves.
"When you see people out here working to maintain this park, that shows what's good about Modesto," Holt said. "It's hope for the future of our city."