wooden shoe tulip fest, tulips
Image: Kate Bryant
Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest in Woodburn, OR.

Tulips may not be the first flowers to bloom in our region, but they are early enough - and definitely spectacular - with bright, saturated colors and those chalice-shaped blossoms that signify Easter parties and even spring itself.

Celebrate spring of 2013 with a visit out to one of the Willamette Valley's nursery success stories: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. It's a mostly organic farm - now Veriflora-certified - that feels like blast-from-the-past rural Oregon. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm's month-long, annual Tulip Fest starts this Friday, March 29, 2013. It's just 40 minutes from Portland (30 minutes from Salem) and runs every day through May 5.

Of course, there are 40 acres of tulips and daffodils to wander through and admire. While you're there, pick up fabulously priced cut flowers: sunny daffodils (10 stems for $2) and jewel-tone tulips (10 stems for $5) and pre-planted pots of bulbs for sale.

My favorite area is the labeled test beds, where you can compare varieties side-by-side and write down your favorites to buy for your own garden. Bring a pad and paper: savvy gardeners walk the beds marking their favorites, then pre-order their bulbs for September planting. Who can remember in fall what you picked out back in April? Read more about planning next spring's tulip plantings here.

Grown-ups can enjoy Willamette Valley wine and microbrew, locally made sausages and Mexican food, as well as craft vendors. And if you're dragging the little ones along, there are kids' games and entertainment including festival food, pony rides, steam tractor rides, and treasure hunts. Check the Schedule of Events to find out what's happening when. Weekends have more events scheduled (Easter egg hunts, the crafter's marketplace, etc) but weekdays are less crowded.

Click on the field report for up-to-date info on the status of the tulip flowers in the fields.

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 some other bulbs in the fields of their family farm.

Wooden Shoe is also committed 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 nursery and cut flower industries, which have 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. It's a good idea to support certified businesses and look for organic or sustainably-grown cut flowers and plants whenever possible.

DETAILS:

WHAT: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm's Tulip Fest
WHEN: Friday March 29 to Sunday May 5, 2013 - from 9 to 6 daily
WHERE: Directions here. Address: 33814 S. Meridian Rd., Woodburn, OR 97071. Phone: 800-711-2006
COST: Daily admission per vehicle (and all people on/within): $5/bike, $10/carload and $20/bus
TIP: You can bring well-behaved dogs on leashes

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