It’s Tulip Season! Grammarians know that wasn’t supposed to be capitalized, but have you seen the tulip fields? The ‘Skagit Valley Tulip Festival‘ should be capitalized for grammar and for fantastic colors. Skagit Valley isn’t on Whidbey Island, but in April when the tulips pop up, the tourists pour in. Whidbey’s only a mile away by air (if you can find a place to take off and land), a couple of miles away by boat (and there are marinas and a canal available), and more then miles away by car or bicycle or foot (using roads shared with a mix of farm equipment, tour buses, and highly distracted tourists.) The tourists that visit Whidbey may also find enough flowers on the island that there’s a good reason for a longer stay.
Tulips like the climate of north Whidbey. At least one farm is smart enough to grow their own. K&R Farms has a stand along State Route 20 and Dugualla Bay. It and any other farms may not be as well known as those in the Skagit Valley, but that just might make them more accessible, too.
A little farther south in Coupeville is Lavender Wind Farm. Currently their
“Purple alert is: 0 – On a scale from 0 (no purple yet) to 10 (Purple Madness)”.
That’s probably why the farm is closed, but the store’s open which can give you a feel for what life is like during Purple Madness. One thing about lavender, the fragrance can be as amazing as the flowers – and is something that has to be experienced in person. Photographs can only capture one sense. Lavender requires at least two.
For a bigger display, or at least for foliage that doesn’t require kneeling to get close, visit Meerkerk Gardens for acres of rhododendron. Instead of nicely organized fields, wind through a forest that encourages wandering and wondering. As for when is the best time to visit? According to them;
“When is Peak Bloom? Hmmmm….. when is a woman at her most beautiful? If you know the answer to that– then you will know the exact day to come to Meerkerk. Otherwise, come and behold beauty in all its stages.”
Is there more? Of course. Whidbey Island’s climate encourages farmers, botanists, and gardeners to create displays that can produce enough detours to turn a quick drive down the highway into an excuse to spend a day or more exploring.
The flowers don’t coordinate their schedules to bloom at the same time and for the convenience of visitors. (Imagine how busy and tired the bees would be.) One solution: visit often. Another solution: move here and get to find the other displays that may not have signs pointing to them. There’s more than enough to see and smell and enjoy.
PS Special thanks goes to the various squirrels that scatter and replant whatever bulbs and seeds they can find. They get credit for daffodils on road banks, irises by wetlands, and day lilies wherever. Thanks for the extra color.