Tulips donated to Lions Gate Hospital Foundation

Make a bold statement over a large area with limited funds. And raise a million dollars.

Health and Beauty

Make a bold statement over a large area with limited funds. And raise a million dollars. That was the tall task before Lions Gate Hospital Foundation last summer, says Foundation president Judy Savage. As part of its annual fall campaign to raise money for urgently needed medical equipment on the North Shore, the Foundation decided to reward the community’s generosity by planting a tulip bulb for each donation received. But, admitted Savage, although she loves a good garden when she sees one, she was at a loss as to what would be easily workable on the hospital’s grounds – and affordable.

The Foundation approached GardenWorks president John Zaplatynsky for advice. With one nursery location on the North Shore and three of their board members local residents, GardenWorks was a natural partner. Zaplatynsky advised tulips because they are inexpensive, extremely easy to care for and they carry a big visual punch in public display gardens. Plus, tulips are so familiar to most North Americans that a simple mention evokes the childlike thrill of spotting the first blossoms of spring. Perfect for a public-relations campaign.

Zaplatynsky and Savage strolled the grounds, scrutinizing every flowerbed to determine how many bulbs they would need. “It varies depending on the size of the flower, but the typical range is somewhere between six and eight bulbs per square foot,” counsels Zaplatynsky. And since the hospital grounds comprise seven buildings over a large city block, the Foundation was going to need over 3,000 bulbs.

The 2009 campaign exceeded its million-dollar goal and, thanks to the generosity of donors, 3,500 orange, yellow and white ‘Emperor’ bulbs were planted in September. GardenWorks kindly donated all bulbs, 20 large terra-cotta pots, and bags and bags of soil.

From the end of March until mid April – if the squirrels have behaved themselves in the face of such temptation – every flowerbed will be bursting with this colourful harbinger of spring, accompanying patients on their walkups to every entry, greeting visitors, and providing a cheerful backdrop for outdoor conversations and strolls.