Last weekend, when driving back from our camping trip, we passed through the flower fields in Mount Vernon and the surrounding area. The tulips were very late this year and had just popped open so we thought they’d be in full bloom on Saturday.
Every year, Mount Vernon has a month-long tulip festival, which attract zillions visitors and causes horrific traffic jams. Because the bulbs were slow to mature, this year’s festival was extended through May 3rd.
The forecast called for rain, which came true along with heavy gusts that made it very challenging to pedal, even on flat roads. What we didn’t anticipate was seeing hardly any tulips! Evidentially, the warm weather the week before motivated the tulips to burst fully open. Because the growers are primarily interested in the bulbs, rather than the flowers, they don’t allow the tulips to wilt on the plant, which takes energy from the bulb.
Once the tulips are fully open, scores of migratory workers quickly pluck off and throw away the flowers. A field of spectacular bulbs can be “plucked” within hours. The bulbs are then left in the ground for six weeks then carefully dug up, cleaned, packaged, and sold between September and December.
One of largest growers of tulips, daffodils, and irises in the world is Roozengaarde with 1,200 acres of fields and 15 acres of greenhouses in the Skagit Valley. Their show garden contains over two hundred thousand spring-flowering bulbs.
We were hoping to see fields of tulips and daffodils, but most had been picked or no longer blooming. And to see the show garden or wander into a field, you needed to pay $3 to $4 per person!
Happily, we were able to see several fields of red tulips from the road. And because we were on bikes, we could stop on the shoulder of the road and snap some pictures for free.
The route we took on our bike, passed through La Conner, a very "arty" town on the Skagit River, across from the Swinomish Indian Reservation. The town is brimming with art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, bed & breakfasts, snazzy garden shops, and small upscale grocery stores.
We enjoyed homemade root beer and a Mediterranean chicken pizza with chicken, tomatoes, spinach, and feta cheese at the La Conner Brewing Company before pulling on our windbreakers and pedaling back in light drizzle.
Along with seeing the tulips, we passed several fields that were being planted with potatoes, wheat, leeks (being harvested), and other early spring crops. It’s cool to live in an agricultural area!
Equally cool is to live where you can grow handfuls of flowers with little efforts! Check out a bouquet I picked of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, and hyacinth from my front yard!
In a couple of weeks, I’m looking forward to cutting peonies and hydrangeas from my yard!