Skagit Valley Tulips & Seattle Cherry Blossom

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Happy Earth Day! 
Spring into Seattle as we celebrate the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival with the most colorful displays of reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and purples you’ve ever seen as well as the iconic Seattle Cherry Blossom! 

Hi, I’m Sean Reynolds, the owner of Summit Properties NW and Reynolds and Kline Appraisal and for this episode of Only in Seattle, we are shooting beautiful Skagit, Washington. Skagit is about an hour north of Seattle and it is famous for its world-class tulip festival. There are about 1,000 acres of tulips and right now there are about eight fields that are in bloom.

Today, we’re going to check out this festival and all the history surrounding it, then we’ll head back down to Seattle and we’ll be checking out the cherry blossom trees at the Washington Arboretum Park and also the University of Washington quad. Like much of Washington’s population, the cherry trees and tulips aren’t native to this state. Nevertheless, they’ve both become cultural staples of the region and continue to grow every year. There’s a lot to see so let’s get started.

Now we’re in Tulip Town, it’s one of the main attractions of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. One of the most striking sights here at Tulip Town is this windmill right here and this windmill is a result of the owner of Tulip Town, his name is Tom De Goede, and in 2003 he visited his family’s home in Holland. This windmill is an exact replica of his family’s windmill in Holland.

How did a festival like this end up in Skagit, Washington of all places? Well, in 1893 an English immigrant named George Gibbs bought $5 worth of tulip bulbs and he planted them on Orcas Island. A couple years after he planted them, he dug them up and realized the massive potential for tulip bulbs in the Pacific Northwest region.

In 1899, Gibbs contacted the United States Government about growing tulip bulbs in the area and the U.S. Government said okay, we’re interested, so in 1905 they shipped him 15,000 bulbs directly from Holland and that experiment was so successful that the U.S. Government set up their own 10 acre parcel in Bellingham strictly to grow tulip bulbs.

The Bellingham Tulip Festival ran from about 1920 to 1930. The Great Depression came along and kind of stopped the festival, so what the growers did is they moved from Bellingham further down to here in Skagit where we have the festival now.

For many years local growers displayed their tulip bulbs in showcase gardens and then in 1984 the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce established the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Initially, it was a three-day festival and now it’s kind of morphed into a month-long event where you got sporting events, a street fair, and you’ve got art displays throughout the area.

We’re here now at Roozen Garden, a famous flower and bulb shop and also one of the major sponsors of the tulip festival here in Skagit, Washington. Roozen Garden was started by the Roozen family and the Washington Bulb Company in 1985. Their business of selling tulips, irises, and a number of other flowers is the largest of its kind in the world. Fresh cut flowers are available for purchase or for shipment anywhere in the United States year round. Roozen Garden is truly one of a kind and much more than a simple flower shop.

We are now heading back to Seattle and we are going to check out the Washington Park Arboretum and the cherry blossom trees, see if they’re blossoming there. We are in Seattle’s Washington Arboretum Park and behind me, you can see a nicely blooming cherry blossom, so how did these cherry blossom trees get to Seattle? How did they get to the state of Washington? They are not a native plant here.

Well, in 1912 the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan gifted 34 cherry blossom trees to Washington. He also gifted a number to other states but Washington got 34 and originally those 34 were planted right here in Washington Park Arboretum. Then in the 1960s, 31 of those trees were moved to the Quad and moved to the University of Washington that we’ll take a look at in this sequence also, but this is kind of where it all started.

Throughout the park, there are these cool descriptive plaques that give you a little bit of the history of how the trees got here and just the history of the botanical gardens in general. If you’re a fan of a little bit quieter area, not quite as crowded as the University’s Quad, this is a great place to come.

We are now leaving Washington Park where the cherry trees were originally planted and we’re headed to the Quad at the University of Washington. This is supposed to be the very best display of cherry blossom trees in the state of Washington, so let’s go there now.

It’s springtime here in Seattle and that means the arrival of cherry blossoms here in the Quad at the University of Washington. Most people see the cherry blossoms as a sign that our long gloomy winter is over, but the cherry blossoms also have some significant cultural meaning as well.

In Japanese culture, cherry blossoms are referred to as Sakura and this is representative of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Another symbol of the cherry blossoms is their status in the international community here at the University of Washington. There are a ton of educators and students that come from many other countries and these cherry trees, as a part of a gift from Japan, are part of the international flavor here.

As you can see, this is kind of a real event here on campus. There are people literally taking pictures all over. We’ve been here for about 15 minutes and we’ve seen hundreds of people come through really just enjoying the cherry blossoms and the environment that this creates. These cherry blossoms are super unique to Seattle and we’re very fortunate as a city to have them.

Again, I’m Sean Reynolds, the owner of Summit Properties NW and Reynolds and Kline Appraisal. I appreciate you taking the time to watch this video. Today, we checked out the Seattle cherry blossoms and also the tulip festival up in Skagit, Washington. Love to have you give us ideas for the next Only in Seattle, and again, thanks for watching the video.

Sean Reynolds

Sean Reynolds

The Owner and Designated Managing Broker of Summit Properties NW and Reynolds & Kline Appraisal.

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