Friday, April 27, 2018

Tiptoeing through the Tulips

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place every April. Somehow Wil had never been -- though one year we drove north on the first or second of May, thinking that there would still be *some* tulips in bloom, only to find that they had all been cut down.

We magically woke up early last Sunday, somewhat unplanned, and decided to jump in the car and head north. The first 45 minutes was fast with little traffic -- we even pondered what might prompt the "EVENT TRAFFIC: EXPECT DELAYS" road sign a few miles before we left the freeway.

We turned off the freeway and drove through Mount Vernon, hitting our first traffic -- but it was more "driving through a small downtown" rather than "thousands of cars on two-lane roads" slowing.

We continued for a few miles until we reached Roozengaarde; one of the two big tulip farms in the valley. We joined a small line of cars -- maybe 8 or 10 -- to get into their very well organized parking lot. With Disney-style organization, we parked pretty quickly. I had expected to pay for parking, somehow, but never saw a person to pay. Then we joined the line of several dozen people waiting to get in. While we waited, we got our first tulip fix: really beautiful mixed beds. My favorite is the orange, fuchsia, and purple mix above, but I also liked these purple and red:

and dark purple Queen of the Night and pale pink:

The line to get in moved quickly -- at least for those of us with cash! -- and we were in. First we looked at some of the show gardens. Just look at all these tulips!

and I do love a fritillary!

But we didn't linger with the building crowds.

What we really wanted was to see this ... FIELDS OF TULIPS IN BLOOM.

These tulips are being grown for bulbs rather than cut flowers. And seeing hundreds of thousands of flowers blooming in a field is... well... worth the drive.

I could look at these beauties all day.

These orange ones are my favorite:

There's a sign right next to Wil asking people not to walk between the rows of tulips, but to stay on the big path. Wil is following instructions... but a lot of people weren't. Sigh.

We wandered around the fields for a long time -- just kept admiring all the rows, the tulips, the colors. But when we looked up even the fields were starting to feel crowded.

We considered buying some bulbs for delivery in the fall -- but the gift tent opened late and no one had yet arrived to take bulb orders.  ("They're probably stuck in traffic.") So we decided we could wait and place our order online.

The exit was, surprisingly, not through the gift shop ... but back through the show gardens, where we admired some of the plantings. A star made of tulips and grape hyacinth:

a red and white tulip heart:

and my favorite color blend, again:

We headed out of the gardens and back to the car, where the two-lane road showed traffic stretching for miles, moving at a crawl. Oh dear.

We wondered whether we'd be able to get out ourselves, but then realized that we were going exactly the opposite direction. Win!

Because traffic was essentially stopped, we were easily able to turn out of the parking lot and make our way away from the fields. The one busy intersection ("CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP") that I was a bit nervous about turned out to be staffed by a police officer, who waved us across. Win!

We made a stop at a nursery for a local arts and crafts show, and on a whim I went looking for an acanthus. Sure enough, I found one -- the variety I wanted, and for less than at the nursery on Whidbey. Win!

We then headed back -- again, with no traffic, but watching the people crawling in the opposite direction. We made a stop in Mount Vernon, scored free parking half a block from their street fair / market, and then wandered around there for a while. Yet another win!

I love this mural:

and this sign:

It was one of those brilliant days where everything just works. We even bought some local hard cider, which we spent the evening sipping in our own back garden. 


  1. Thank you for all the beautiful photos!! I love tulips and there was a lot of AH and OH, when looking at them!

  2. Thank you for the tulip show! They are some of my favorite flowers, but the deer love them, so I have none of my own! This was wonderful.♥️

  3. You were right in our backyard! You got some gorgeous pix of the tulips- I think our taste must be very much in sync, your faves are mine as well. So did the acanthus come from one of the street fair vendors or one of the nurseries up here?

  4. I love everything I see! Lots of beautiful photos.