The tulips are set to bloom on time for the 34th annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which runs during the month of April.

Share story

MOUNT VERNON — The tulips are set to bloom on time for the 34th annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which runs during the month of April.

Warm winters have led to mid-March blooms the past two years, throwing off the festival’s schedule, festival Executive Director Cindy Verge said.

That won’t be the case this year.

“The timing is more traditional,” Verge said. “They should come around during the first full week of the festival.”

The festival features tulips grown by RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town, as well as dozens of events such as barbecues, bike races and events for kids.

In some cases, the early blooms of the past two years caused problems for some festival events.

“Last year they were so early it was a real scramble, and it impacted a lot of folks,” Verge said. “For instance, the Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue didn’t have as good a year as they normally do because half the bloom was in March. That kind of organization can’t change its plans on short notice.”

Verge isn’t expecting scheduling problems this season.

Because of consecutive early blooms, some visitors have arrived at RoozenGaarde this month expecting to see flowers.

“We’ve had people here in the middle of March looking for tulips and saying, ‘Well they were blooming at this time last year,’ ” Verge said. “We try to emphasize that their bloom cycles varies.”

Tulip Town co-owner Jeanette DeGoede surveyed her tulip fields this past week during a blustery afternoon, noting the healthy green tulip leaves sprouting from the muddy fields.

“They are really developing now,” DeGoede said.

She said the fields should be full of color during the first week of the festival.

At RoozenGaarde, the daffodil fields last week were already in full bloom. The tulips are still a couple of weeks away, grower Brent Roozen said.

“There’s not going to be too much tulip bloom by April 1,” Roozen said. “It’ll be more toward the end of the first week of April.”

He said the early seasons have not affected RoozenGaarde too much because the grower is open year-round, selling bulbs all over the world.

Tulip Town is open seasonally, with a majority of its revenue made during the festival, DeGoede said.

The festival, which draws about 300,000 people to Skagit County, brings in an estimated $65 million in revenue, according to the Washington State University Skagit County Extension 2015 agriculture statistics report.

RoozenGaarde farms about 350 acres of tulips and 500 acres of daffodils. Tulip Town has about 15 acres of tulips.

Both tulip growers offer plenty of attractions during the festival. For instance, Tulip Town includes landscape murals painted by a local artist, trolley rides and a test garden.

The test garden allows Tulip Town to experiment with new varieties shipped from Holland and helps determine how well the new flowers grow here, DeGoede said.

This year’s test garden includes 22 varieties.

One recent success story from the test garden was the Garden Treasure, a white flower with a splash of green, DeGoede said.

“When the flowers are fully developed, they just knock your eyes out,” she said.

One of RoozenGaarde’s top attractions is its 5-acre display garden, which includes 350,000 hand-planted bulbs. The elaborate displays include tulip beds resembling a flowing stream and beds shaped to resemble a gigantic tulip.

During the past two tulip seasons, there was some discussion of changing the dates of future Skagit Valley Tulip Festivals to account for early or late blooms.

That idea has since fallen by the wayside, Verge said.

“We’ll be staying put,” Verge said.