A Community on the Verge

by: Mel Hennigar

This spring, nearly 10,000 tulips bloomed on their namesake street in downtown Dartmouth.

It all stemmed from a small patch of tulips planted in front of Sam Austin’s home on Tulip Street last spring. Planted in the mangy and often overlooked no man’s land between the sidewalk and the street, known technically as the verge, he had no idea that his small flower patch would blossom into a community wide point-of-pride.

His winning pitch was simple – he wanted to extend the brightness of the verge in front of his house to his entire neighbourhood. Thanks to the Awesome Foundation, Sam was able to bring his idea of lining Tulip Street with tulips to fruition.

“Tulip Street has always been a tight community,” says Sam. “But you tend to know just the people on your block. Maple Street cuts Tulip Street in half, and since Maple is a busy street it truly divides the street. This project brought the whole street together. I really feel like the two blocks joined.”

The entire street embraced the project and got to know each other a bit better as neighbours and friends while collectively pitching in to dig in the dirt and plant the bulbs last fall.

Aside from just a source of neighbourhood pride, visitors from far and wide took a chance to tip toe down Tulip Street this spring to enjoy the colourful blooms.

Eleanor Bramah lives on nearby Rose Street and hopes the idea will inspire some of the other ‘Flower Streets’ in downtown Dartmouth. “The street looks incredible, it’s just lovely to walk in the neighborhood. In fact, Tyler [my husband] and I liked the idea so much we planted roses on Rose Street.”

Far from a one-off event, tulip varieties were chosen specifically for their hardiness ensuring they will bloom each year for many years to come.

As for Sam’s favourite variety? The Daydream- an apricot yellow tulip that deepens to a fiery orange as it blooms.

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