Warm April to bring early end to Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Photo: Steve Phelps

Those warm, summer-like days we had to finish off March and kick off the beginning of April were perfect weather for visiting the brilliant display of tulips in the Skagit Valley this year.

Unfortunately, that same weather is also bringing an early end to their annual spring festival. Warm temperatures accelerate the tulips' growth and in turn, shorten their display season.

Both Tulip Town and Roozengaarde Gardens will likely be "topping" their tulips after the upcoming weekend of April 16-17. Tulip Town says only late season variety tulips remain anyway, and it will close at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 17. They won't reopen until the fall.

Brent Roozen with Roozengaarde says the tulips in their fields will be gone by Monday morning, but the tulips in their garden are just peaking now.

"Our fields are nearing their end, but our display garden is at its very peak right now," Roozen said. "My thought back in March was that the garden would be filled with color through at least the end of April, but that outlook might need to be adjusted too depending on the upcoming forecast. To be safe I am recommending those who want to view the garden at its best to come sooner than later - and shoot for a visit before the 23/24 of April for sure."

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival usually runs from April 1-30 with a typical bloom around the first week of April. However, a warm winter and early spring will trigger the tulips' growth ahead of schedule.

And this was the second straight year the tulips bloomed early. Last year set a record with a mid-March bloom-- about 3 weeks ahead of schedule as the Skagit Valley went through months of record warmth. However, last year had a relatively cool late March into mid-April, helping prolong the tulips' life quite a bit.

This year? Not so much. While this past winter wasn't quite as warm and the tulips held out a few days longer before blooming, late March and early April have been super warm with 7 days warmer than 65 degrees, and a four days over 70! The days in the mid-upper 70s late last week were probably the final straw.

"The original thought (slash hope) was that the color in our fields might last until the 23/24 of April, but toss in a bunch of sunny and warm 60 degree days and a handful that saw temps creep into the 70's and you end up with a bloom season that has been shortened quite a bit," Roozen said. "We always want to stretch the bloom for as long as possible, but if the trade-off for a shorter season is more sunny days, then I'm not going to complain!"

Roozen says RoozenGaarde is open year 'round. "So once the color in the garden nears an end, we still allow visitors - but we will quit charging a fee for admission," he said.

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