An international symbol of friendship and a welcome sign of spring’s arrival after every long Canadian winter, the tulip has been feted with abundant displays at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa for 65 years. Inspired by the gift of 100,000 tulips from the Netherlands to Canada following World War II (Canadian soldiers were instrumental in freeing the Netherlands from German occupation), and featuring over a million blooms, this festival in our nation’s capital is something we Canadians should all strive to experience at least once.
But given that Ottawa is a long trek for many of us, we’re thrilled to report that in 2017, as Canada celebrates her sesquicentennial (aka 150th birthday), there are 150 extra opportunities from coast to coast, for some excellent tulip viewing! In the fall of 2016, Veseys, a longstanding Canadian seed and bulb company, donated 1,000 red and white tulip bulbs to each of 150 public garden projects right across Canada. Veseys’ generosity is our gain as the 150,000 donated bulbs will soon bloom, creating 150 vivid tableaus of red and white for us to enjoy! These garden installations are symbolically linked to the flagship 150th Celebration Garden Promenade, which has been planted adjacent to Niagara Falls and incorporates a whopping 30,000 tulips!
Find a Canada 150 Celebration Garden near you; you can sort by province and view the results in a list or on a map. Optimal viewing times will depend on what part of the country in; we recommend contacting the location or organization (or visiting their Facebook page) to find out when the tulips are expected to bloom and find out if any special events are planned.
While the Canada 150 Celebration Gardens will all feature a mixture of solid red and solid white tulips to create a tableau that pays homage to our iconic flag, there’s also a new variety of tulip making an appearance in Canadian gardens this spring. The Canada 150 Tulip – developed in partnership with tulip farmers in the Netherlands – was marketed exclusively by Home Hardware stores last spring and enthusiastically planted by many Canadian gardeners. You can see how this newcomer on the tulip scene (and the official tulip of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations) is progressing in gardens across Canada by visiting CBC’s Canada 150 Tulip Diaries!
And long after the tulips have faded, keep making the most of this very special year by visiting great gardens near your home or along the path of your Canadian summer travels. The Canada 150 Garden Experience is a fantastic resource, providing inspiration and information on locating and visiting gardens across Canada, including heritage, Parks Canada and other public gardens, some fantastic garden centres, festivals and other botanically-inclined destinations and experiences.
This year, put some extra red and white – and a whole lot of soothing green – into your spring, summer and fall by incorporating a few of Canada’s wonderful gardens into your family’s plans!