On her return trip from bird-watching in Florida, Elizabeth Wolfe started noticing the wildflowers growing on the sides of the highways.

"I thought, Belfast should do this," she said.

Soon after, she bought 50,000 daffodil bulbs for just under $12,000 in what she called a "leap of faith," and started the Belfast Daffodil Project. Over the next 10 years, she hopes to plant one million of the trumpet-y yellow flowers around the city.

Planted five per square foot, that's enough to cover 4.6 acres, or roughly the combined area of Belfast Commons and Steamboat Landing Park. But spread over the city — in backyards, on the edges of public parks, in public rights of way, on parking lot medians and highway exit ramps — Wolfe said the impression won't be overwhelming, it will just make the city better and more alive.

Wolfe picked daffodils because they're easy to plant, hardy, hold moisture in the soil, and they're perennial, so they will bloom every spring.

By mid-September, Wolfe had sold about 45,000 bulbs at 25 cents a pop. They will be planted in October to come up next spring. About 25,000 of them are earmarked for public spaces — a Community Planting Day will be held at the Belfast Boathouse Sunday, Oct. 14, at noon.

The rest will be planted in backyards and gardens. Wolfe sees the public and private plantings as serving the same end, to beautify the city.

The Daffodil Project is starting slowly with just half of the 100,000 per year quota, but Wolfe said she expects it to pick up. While many people grasped the idea right away, others voiced uncertainty for one reason or another.

"I think people need to see it to know how beautiful it will be," she said.

This year, plantings are slated for the Route 1 jughandle, Harbor Walk and Belfast Common. Wolfe has partnered with Troy Howard Middle School, Waldo County YMCA, Keeping Belfast Maine Beautiful and other groups to expand the project. The city has signed on as the fiscal agent for the project and is collecting money and organizing some of the planting.

Wolfe has been deputizing "head gardeners" and "master gardeners" to oversee neighborhood projects, and she hopes to find other leaders and volunteer planters.

"I want this first year for people to say, 'Wow!' and then jump on board," she said, "and we continue to keep it going."

For more information, call Elizabeth Wolfe at 338-4783 or Belfast Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirer at 338-3370, ext. 3, or email belfastdaffodilproject1@gmail.com.