Tag Archives: tulips

Tulips!

The Skagit Valley in northwestern Washington state grows more bulbs commercially than the Netherlands does, and the results in the spring are rather spectacular.

My friend Loralee and I made the tulip festival there our annual birthday jaunt yesterday, and I wanted to share some photos I took.

The first thing we actually saw wasn’t tulips.  It was a huge flock of snow geese, out in an empty field chowing away:

Snow geese in the Skagit Valley.
Snow geese in the Skagit Valley.

Then, a couple of miles later, we found tulip fields:

tulips 1
Tulips, as far as the eye can see.
And more tulips.
And more tulips.
And yet more.
And yet more tulips.

After a pleasant waterfront lunch of fish and chips in the rather touristy town of LaConner, we went to the display gardens at Roozengaarde, which I think is the biggest bulb grower in the valley.  At any rate, they’ve got some seriously spectacular display gardens:

So much color!
So much color!
My eyes just soaked the color in.
My eyes just soaked the color in.
They even had a maze made of flowers.
They even had a maze made of flowers.

It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of us there enjoying it.  I’m glad we went on a weekday, though, because I suspect the weekends are pretty much a zoo.

But, oh, it was pretty, and my eyes are happy, and it’s officially spring.

I’m going to miss this place

A sad story aired on the local news here about a month ago.  Van Lierop Bulb Farm is no more.  They’re closing down operations due to the owners’ retirement, and the shop, and more importantly, the display garden, will be closing for good at the end of May.  This leaves the Puyallup Valley, about an hour south of Seattle and once one of the world’s pre-eminent daffodil growing areas, with only one active bulb farm where their used to be over a dozen.

Change can be good.  But this change sure isn’t.

I mean, I understand about wanting to retire, and I understand about children not necessarily wanting to work in the family business, and I also understand about how it’s at least partly land values that have pushed farming out of the fertile valleys within commuting distance of the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

At any rate, I made one last daffodil-season visit to Van Lierop’s a couple of weeks ago, and took pictures of the display garden.  While it was really obvious that the annual bulb-planting did not happen this past fall, daffodils are perennial bulbs, as are several other kinds.  And the trees and shrubs were still beautiful.  But the patches of ground where tulips and hyacinths, which aren’t as reliably perennial, used to crowd in past years were so bare.

Van Lierop’s was the place for Easter pictures in my neck of the woods, and a beautiful place on any given day between early March and early May.  And I’m going to miss it something fierce.

A view of the display garden at Van Lierop's.
A view of the display garden at Van Lierop’s.
And another view, with weeping cherry trees.
And another view, with weeping cherry trees.
Traditional yellow daffodils.
Traditional yellow daffodils.
One forlorn clump of tulips.
One forlorn clump of tulips.
A river of grape hyacinths, which would have been surrounded by tulips in past years.
A river of grape hyacinths, which would have been surrounded by tulips in past years.
And another.
More daffodils.  These are called Ice Follies.
Pieris japonica, one of our mainstay landscaping shrubs here.
Pieris japonica, one of our mainstay landscaping shrubs here.
That's a blue squill in that enormous bed of hardy cyclamen foliage.
That’s a blue squill in that enormous bed of hardy cyclamen foliage.
A bed full of daffodils.
A bed full of daffodils.
An artsy view of the flowers.
An artsy view of the flowers.
Daffodils don't have to be yellow.
Daffodils don’t have to be yellow.  These are descendants of a pink variety called Mrs. R.O. Backhouse.