I love the story author Jaroldeen Edwards tells (Things I Wish I’d Known Sooner) of the trip she took with her daughter one bleak and rainy day. She wasn’t that thrilled to drive more than two hours to see flowers some woman had planted. But her daughter was insistent. “You’re going to love this, Mom!” Tell me what mom could resist going along with that kind of enthusiasm.
They drove along the Rim of the World Highway, inching their way toward Lake Arrowhead through fog and drizzle in the San Bernardino mountains, north of Los Angeles, Calif.
By now, Jaroldeen was so agitated, she was certain she was being kidnapped by her daughter. Still not convinced this could be worth the trouble, Carolyn parked next to a small stone church and announced they would need to walk along a path, through huge, black-green evergreens and over a thick blanket of old pine needles.
Just as they turned the corner, Jaroldeen stopped dead—literally gasping in amazement. “There before me was a most incredible and glorious sight! So unexpected and unimagined.”
From the top of the mountain, sloping down several acres across folds and valleys, between the trees and bushes, following the natural flow of the terrain, were rivers of daffodils in radiant bloom. Every color of the spectrum of yellow blazed like a carpet before them.
Why? How? Her mind flooded with questions for how this could be.
The Daffodil Garden is the handiwork of just one woman. A former Los Angeles High School art teacher, Gene Bauer and her husband still live on the property. Their small home (rebuilt after having been destroyed by fire two times) fits perfectly into the scene in the midst of all the glory.
This one woman, beginning in 1958, planted each daffodil bulb by hand, one at a time. No shortcuts.
Year after year, one ugly dried up lifeless bulb at a time, she planted more than 1,000,000 bulbs. She forever changed her world by creating something of magnificence, beauty and inspiration.
As Jaroldeen approached the mountain home situated in that sea of yellow, she saw a sign posted by someone who was clearly tired of answering the same questions:
Answers to the Questions I Know You are Asking: One Woman, Two Hands, Two Feet, and Very Little Brain. One bulb at a Time. Started in 1958.
What do you need to do in your life? Build an emergency fund? Pay down your debt? Downsize to a smaller lifestyle?
Why not get started today? Take that first step. Then take another over and over again, one baby step at a time. You will be amazed at what will come of your effort no matter how small. Your consistent diligence will make all the difference.
For 40 years, Gene Bauer opened her property for three weeks each spring, free of charge, so the public could bask in the glory of all that yellowness; in the passion and hard work of a woman intent on making the world a more beautiful place.
Bauer said the people who flocked to her home each year were generally polite and respectful. But she’s 89 now, and preparing the property for visitors has become too much to handle. In 2009 she posted signs around her house saying the Daffodil Garden was closed forever.
It still is, but now Bauer has filled the void with a different offering of beauty: her collected artistic works in the book Botanical Serigraphs: The Gene Bauer Collection.