July 18, 2019
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See 10,000 tulips bloom in Portland

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Duncan Scott of the horticultural division of Portland's Department of Public Works weeds a tulip bed at Fessenden Park near the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday. In a few weeks Scott and his co-workers will dig up the tulips and plant annuals that will bloom all summer.

Every year, workers from the horticultural division of Portland’s Department of Public Works plant nearly 10,000 tulip bulbs around the city. More than half of them — over 5,000 — go into the soil in a tiny, wedge-shaped park in Oakdale.

Fessenden Park is named for former Maine U.S. Sen. William Pitt Fessenden. Bounded by Deering Avenue on one side, and Brighton Avenue on the other, it’s just a bulb toss away from the University of Southern Maine. Nearby William, Pitt and Fessenden Streets are also named for the senator.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Eric Newton (above right photo) of Portland's horticulture team leads a crew in weeding the thousands of tulips in bloom at Fessenden Park on Tuesday. The team plants -- and cares for -- around 5,000 tulips every year in the park.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Eric Newton tiptoes through some of the thousands of tulips blooming in Portland's Fessenden Park in the Oakdale neighborhood on Tuesday. Newton and his city horticulture team were weeding the beds.

“A lot of graduation photos get taken here,” said horticultural crew leader Eric Newton on Tuesday. Newton and his workers were all on their knees, pulling tiny weeds from the tulip beds.

Newton and company put all the bulbs in the ground last fall. In a few weeks, after the tulips have had their weeks in the sun, they’ll all get dug up. The city horticulturists will then replace them with annuals like dusty miller, castor beans, marigolds and calla lilies.

When thanked for his hard work, Newton replied, “I don’t feel like we do too much. We just put them in the ground and the tulips bloom and do the rest.”

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Ruby Murdock (bottom photo) laughs after a co-worker hands her a blooming tulip at Fessenden Park in Portland on Tuesday. Murdock is part of the city horticulture team that takes care of the thousands of tulips in the park. Red tulips explode in color (top right photo) as the camera lens zooms through a slow exposure while the sun (top left photo) shines on them all.


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