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.

Credit: Troy R. Bennett

“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.”

Credit: Troy R. Bennett
Avatar photo

Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.