Keith Owen was very keen that his legacy should be spent on encouraging conservation and natural heritage, and he saw voluntary action as evidence of a community at peace with itself. When discussing what the money should be spent on he told the SVA’s Treasurer and Chairman to ‘Think big! Plant a million bulbs! – get everyone involved’
Bulbs have been planted in many places throughout the town including Peak Hill and the Byes.
Selection of the most appropriate bulbs is important. John Townsend formerly of the Keith Owen Fund explains:
We planted naturalised bulbs as far as possible as they are more likely to re-appear year after year. Some bulbs were planted in clumps. Small bulbs (snowdrops, crocuses, and bluebells) were planted in handfuls.
We are grateful for the generous co-operation of Sidmouth Garden Centre in the logistics of handling, storing, sorting and distributing the bulbs.
Planting of the bulbs started in 2013 and volunteers have included pupils and parents from Sidmouth and Sidbury Primary Schools, St. John’s Independent School, Sidmouth College, churchyards of the Parish Church, St. Giles (Sidbury), St. Francis (Woolbrook), and St. Peter’s (Sidford), the SVA Woodlands and Estates team, Sidmouth in Bloom, National Trust East Devon, Rangers from Branscombe, Friends of the Byes, Balfour Manor Residents, Lymebourne Residents, Sidmouth W.I., Sidbury community, Stowford Lodge Community Centre; the Cricket, Tennis, Rugby and Croquet Clubs, the Scouts, Guides, and Brownies, Fusion Youth Café, Army and Air Training Cadets, and Waitrose staff to name but a few. The planting has not only involved residents of Sidmouth but visitors to the town have asked to plant in remembrance of loved ones.
News of The Valley of a Million Bulbs has spread worldwide and the daffodils have become a major tourist attraction for the town.