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The Smyrna Jonquil  

In the late 1920s and early 1930s US 41 (now Atlanta Road) was the only paved road in Smyrna and the population was a few hundred. Smyrna's residential yards and rights of way became a mass of yellow in the spring. Thousands of jonquil blossomed profusely for several weeks. This annual event attracted the attention of tourists traveling back to their homes in the Midwest and Canada after having spent the winter in Florida.

Some of Smyrna's young boys would gather up bunches of the jonquils and sell them on the side of the road for 10 to fifteen cents a dozen to the tourists and other motorists driving through town.

Practically all of the yards of Smyrna's residences, as well as the hills, valleys and roadways, in those days were covered with King Alfred and other varieties of what we refer to as jonquils today.

Because of today's "urban sprawl" and the construction of housing and businesses, the jonquils are not as widely disbursed as in the past. However, they still continue to amaze and thrill residents every year with their color and beauty and inspire the city to host the annual Jonquil Festival.

Traditional history says that the jonquils were introduced to Smyrna by Mr.& Mrs. Taylor (Mommy & Daddy) who moved to Smyrna from Decatur in the late 1880s. They purchased 80 acres on and around the area where the old Brawner hospital is currently located on Atlanta Road. They picked up the nicknames "Mommy & Daddy" when they were supervisors at the Methodist Children's Home in Decatur.

The Taylors had one son who lived in Spokane, Washington. He sent his parents a burlap bag from there of what are believed to be the area's first jonquil bulbs. The Taylors shared the bulbs with friends and neighbors. They quickly multiplied and came back every year with very little care.

The Taylors moved to Spokane in 1907. Other residents continued the tradition of planting and sharing jonquil bulbs with friends and family. In 1937, 18 local ladies established a garden club. They adopted Jonquil Garden Club as the name as well as the familiar green and yellow as the club's colors.

At this point, the traditional history gets a little controversial when it comes to identifying a single source for the name "Jonquil City of the South". For a number of years, a number of members of the Smyrna Business Men's Club claimed that they introduced the name "Jonquil City". However, the ladies of the Jonquil Garden Club and the Spring Hill Garden Club agreed that Smyrna was first given the title by Smyrna Native, Lena Mae Green.

Mrs. Green, and her husband Dr. G. C. Green were in Toronto, Ontario for a convention. One of the delegates enquired what was the name of the town north of Atlanta that had all the pretty yellow flowers. Mrs. Green replied "That's Smyrna, Georgia, the Jonquil City of the South".

When the Greens returned to Smyrna after the convention, it is said that Mrs. Green suggested that the city adopt the name. Since that time, garden clubs, civic and service organizations, churches, businesses and the city government have encouraged residents to plant jonquil bulbs.

In recent years the Smyrna Clean and Beautiful Organization has sold thousands of bulbs and planted many more on rights of ways, cemeteries, city parks and city land and encouraged residents to continue this more than century-old tradition.

The beautiful flower has been incorporated into the official logo of the city. The Administrative Services Building and the Community Center are topped with towers that feature stained glass reproductions of the jonquil. Each spring and fall, the city celebrates the Jonquil Festival attended by tens of thousands of residents and visitors. Even more are attracted throughout the year to the city known as The Jonquil City of the South.
   


 

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