PHOTOS: Skagit Valley tulips (because they're gorg and we can't get enough)
Spring is in the air! The tulips of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival are in full bloom. The festival, in its 35th year, runs through the end of April.
On Tuesday, visitors from all over toured the many colorful rows of tulips along the tulip route, near Mount Vernon. Over one million bulbs are planted at RoozenGaarde's show garden, a popular stop along the route.
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KUOW listener Erin Lynch wondered about the history of the fields and what happens to the flowers and bulbs.
The Skagit Valley is the heart of the U.S. tulip industry. It traces its roots back not to the Dutch masters of tulip bulb production, but to English immigrant George Gibbs, who tried growing bulbs on Orcas Island in the late 19th Century.
He soon moved his efforts to the Bellingham area, where they took off with help from the federal government.
The Bellingham Tulip Festival thrived for a time before faltering during the Great Depression, and growers then moved to the Skagit Valley.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival began in 1984 and has been a perennial hit with people from around the Northwest and beyond. We found a brief history of bulb growing in Washington state in The Seattle Times archives.
Today, Skagit County produces daffodils and irises in addition to tulips. Cut flowers and bulbs are shipped throughout North America, according to the Washington State University extension service.
But the service notes that prices have been declining since 2000, and only three bulb-growing farms remain in the region.
Skagit County farmers often repurpose these fields for other crops – the county is the biggest U.S. producer of seed for spinach and cabbage growers.
The sunny weather is expected to continue through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Showers are likely on Saturday, so plan your trip accordingly! WSDOT has tips on getting there and beating traffic. __