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Tulip Fest!

By Kate Bryant March 29, 2010

I wanted to roll around in this field of glowy, sunshiny Tulip ‘Candela’, but it was too muddy. Fie! I settled for a bouquet.

I love getting out of town. After many years of living car-free, it’s still an extra-special treat to take a drive in the country or go on a road trip – however short a ride it may be.

If it’s for plant-related purposes, all the better.

This past weekend inaugurated the start of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm’s Tulip Fest. This Festival is a great excuse to get out of town and admire the rural beauty of the Willamette Valley. It’s a good half-day excursion that takes about 45 minutes each way from Portland.

I would have written this post yesterday but as soon as I sat down to begin, I got antsy, jumped in the car and – how sweet to have it! – hit the gas. I was turning into the gate at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm 45 minutes later, amidst waving fields of brightly colored tulips and late-flowering daffodils.

Running for a month, from March 25 to April 25 from 9 to 6 daily, the Tulip Festival is touted as a day of family fun. But there were people of all ages there, from young city couples and cyclists to car loads of families and people who had clearly been coming to the event for years and obviously knew where the fun was.

For the kids, there’s a cow train, hay tend, slide, and horse swings, as well as steam tractors and tram rides. On weekends, grown-ups can enjoy wine tasting and beer swilling, music and a crafters marketplace. I admired an elderly gent carving wooden shoes. Weekdays are toned down a little, without the craft booths, music and booze but with pony and cart rides for the kids and tulips galore for flower-gazers. Wooden Shoe’s blog provides more information about daily activities.

Not to over-share, but I get all fetish-y about tulips at this time of year and engage in embarrassingly detailed comparisons of flower shapes, colors, size, bloom time, foliage color and other qualities. For people like me, there is a sample garden with labeled examples of various tulips and daffodils they sell in their catalog. (See slideshow for some purdy images of all this.) You can also buy pots of forced bulbs for $8 each which can later be planted in your garden, as well as lovely, inexpensive tulip bouquets – bundles of which now adorn my place. The main business of Wooden Shoe, though, is their bulb trade. You can order bulbs for autumn planting now or wait until September or October to pick them. Buying them now ensures the best selection and they do run out of certain varieties every year, such as the gorgeous black tulip Queen of Night.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is one of only a few remaining bulb growers in the Pacific Northwest. While most spring flowering bulbs sold today are grown in Holland, Wooden Shoe actually grows their own tulips, daffodils and other traditionally "Dutch" bulbs in the fields of their family farm.

Another wonderful thing about Wooden Shoe is their commitment to sustainable agricultural practices. They are one of only a handful of Oregon growers who are certified by Veriflora for adhering to sustainable practices throughout their business. I hope to see sustainability certification spread in the cut flower industry, which has a less-than-stellar record of minimizing toxic hazards, with dire consequences to workers, as well as consumers and the fields, greenhouses and surrounding environment. Support certified businesses and look for organic or sustainably-grown cut flowers and plants whenever possible.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

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