U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

What a Question, Hermes!

You won't believe it!
After we found out how they grow beautiful tulip fields, another outstanding question arrived, this time from Hermes : " But how do they make sure they (bulbs) are planted the right way up!" . This question didn't come to my mind when I was reading that article on about the bulb-planting machine. Really, HOW do those machines know where is the tulip's top and, what is even more important - HOW do they put a bulb right side up?!!!!!

Again, I went to the library. In my robe and slippers, with a big mug of coffee in my hand. I love this library. I don't know how we lived without it. I have things to do in the garden, but I will die from curiosity if I don't find the answer right now! The good thing is that the library is in my house. It's the Internet.
Well, it was not fast. I looked through many sites before I found the answer. Here it is:
"Root Side Down? Nope. The bulbs never complained a bit. And gardeners who emphasize having to do this have never seen commercial machines planting flower bulbs in operation. Imagine planting millions of bulbs and trying to turn each one root-side-down. The bulbs know. When I grew gladiola commercially, I used to plow a furrow with the tractor, walk along the furrow with a bag of glad corms tossing them in at approximately the right distance. Then I'd run the tractor back down the furrow and roll the soil back in on top of the glads. Not pretty, but really effective when you're planting 10,000 glad bulbs. If you're a bit compulsive about it remember to plant bulbs "pointy side" up."
Thank you Doug at

Doug's site is very interesting and has a lot of useful information.

Thank you Hermes for this excellent question! We all will soon be experts in tulip growing!
Thank you Dirt Princess for your comment that started this research!

P.S.Can you believe?! Bulbs don't care which side up we plant them! Should we experiment and try to plant some of them top side down? Hmmm, if you try and fail, please remember that it was not my idea!

Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Tulip Fields: By Machine Or By Hand?

I appreciate all the comments I got on my three posts about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (Yellow Seas ,Purple and Pink Dream ,Red and Yellow Tulip Fields ). I got curious and did some research after receiving a question from Dirt Princess .
She wrote:
"It is simply amazing! How do they plant them? By machine or by hand? That is quite an undertaking. Of course I realize that most come back, but then there is the dividing and re-planting. I would love to go there." What a good question!
Really, HOW?
The best answer I found was on I think their article is extremely interesting. I am using it to show the main stages of the process:
- When conditions are right, the tulip bulbs are planted much like potatoes. A bin in the back of a tractor holds the bulbs. As the tractor moves through a field, bulbs drop through a shoot and into a furrow in the prepared ground.

- At the same time, another implement of the tractor adds bands of fertilizer on either side of the bulb.

- Finally, a tractor shoe layers a 5 1/2-inch-thick hill of soil over the top of the bulbs.

After planting, tulips become a bit lower-maintenance for a while, as growers rely on the ideal conditions of the Skagit Valley to nurture their crop.
Underground, the bulbs germinate as they soak up water from the Valley's "perfect" amount of rainfall. Eventually, green shoots start to poke up through the soil. When they start to appear also depends on the weather.
The flowers start to bloom as soon as early spring. The time of the bloom also depends on the tulip. Different variety are early-, mid-season- or latebloomers.

- Commercial harvesting of the flowers begins when they start to bloom. Workers bundle the flowers in groups of 10 and put them in trays. The trays go into a warehouse cooler for an hour so the stems are cool when workers pack the bunches into plastic sleeves for shipping to stores.

- As soon as the flower looks ratty, a crew goes into the field to cut all of the petals off, right underneath the head of each flower.
With no flower left to devote energy to, a plant sends all of its nutrients to the bulbs. Each plant is attached to multiple bulbs, including the bulb planted the previous fall and new, smaller bulbs.
Allowing petals to remain to fall off into the foliage can also spread disease to the leaves and bulbs.

- After the flowers are topped, growers give them about three weeks to send nutrients into the growing bulbs. In late May, using a machine called a skimmer, they cut the stems to the ground. A tractor following behind the skimmer scoops out the bulbs. They rise up a belt on the tractor, like potatoes, and the bulbs fall into a hopper.

- The bulbs go to a barn, where they're loaded onto a conveyor belt and washed. Crews pick sprouts off the ends, and the bulbs move along to another belt to a grader for sizing.
As they move along the belt, the smallest bulbs drop through holes in the grader first into waiting bins. The largest bulbs make it to the end. The larger bulbs, 12 centimeters in diameter and larger, are the ones that are sold. Smaller bulbs are retained to be planted again.

- Next the bulbs, sorted into trays, are placed in an air tunnel for drying and storage. Fans keep air circulating over the bulbs to keep them dry, mold-free and cool until conditions are right for planting again.

***Copyright 2009 TatyanaS

Red and Yellow Tulip Fields

These are other tulip fields from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Skagit Valley tulips are among the finest tulips in the world.

Oops, I see some red spots among the yellow tulips on the picture below!

Hundred of farms in the Skagit Valley sell tulip and other bulbs and full grown flowers to grocery stores and other flower outlets throughout the U. S. and the world.

We've been told that soon plants will be topped to allow bulbs to grow bigger.

Skagit Valley is the main provider of tulip bulbs in the country.

One of the companies-growers is owned by the Roozen family growing bulbs since the 1700's. We saw a lot of people visiting its 3-acre Display Garden with over 300,000 planted bulbs.

They added 10 new tulip varieties for this year.

Click on me! I am the best picture
and you can see a helicopter with those who wants to see flowers from the sky!

Display Garden includes 88 varieties of tulips and also many varieties of daffodils, crocus, iris, hyacinths.

We took a trip on Saturday and skipped the Display Garden because of a crowd.

Click on me, click on me!
You will see the plane advertising the outlet stores. Who needs shopping during the festival?!
Now, listen to this!
The Run Through the Tulips fun-run is one of the most popular festival events. Its participants have the chance to run through some of the prettiest Skagit Valley tulips on the 5K race. Wow! Run through the tulips!!!!!

The festival lasts throughout the month of April and the first (this year it might be the second) week of May.

Visitors can take a guided bike tour, a helicopter tour, or just drive from field to field.
To see other tulips go here Purple and Pink Dream , to see daffodil fields go here Yellow Seas .
Copyright TatyanaS

Purple and Pink Dream

Today was THE DAY.

Do you remember my post Yellow Seas ? Following a pattern, I was supposed to call this post Red-Yellow-Pink-Purple Seas.

Three weeks ago, fields of daffodils looked like huge yellow seas. Tulips were not ready yet.

Today, 26th Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was in its best.

I'll leave red and yellow tulip fields for later.

Purple and pink were my favorite.

This Festival is a tourist destination in Washington State.

More than 1 million visitors...

Over 300 acres of daffodil and tulip fields...

The host city for the Tulip Festival is Mount Vernon. It is the hub for the Skagit county’s bulb growing industry.

Festival includes nurseries walks, art shows, air show, live music, etc., etc.

I hope you enjoy these images. As always, click on the pictures to make them larger. Then, click Back to return to this page.

Copyright TatyanaS

Dress Up That Wall!

No wall left behind! - it could be another name for this post. I have a couple of outside walls that I'd like to decorate. Right now, they are absolutely blank. Naked. Boring. Not-appealing . Sores in my eye. As always, to get the ideas I go to my garden tours picture file. I am so grateful to the garden owners who allow us to come to their places, stomp their manicured lawns, put our noses in all their garden corners, take pictures and then use their ideas in our own garden projects.

Aren't these walls wonderful?! Look at this - simple and gorgeous!

One trellis with clematis makes all the difference:

Row of nasturtiums:

As you can guess, this house is on the water:

Two wooden boxes plus a window are better than just a window:

A clock to remind a gardener that it's time for a break:

If you finish decorating a house wall, it's time to move to a garden shed:

I wish I kept my tools in such order:

Tell us what's your favorite wall!

Do You Have A Hired Gardener, Tatyana?

Click on the pictures to make them larger. Then click Back to return to the post.
I looked at my last posts - all of them are about trips, holidays, interesting places. What about my own garden? Is anything going on there? Who takes care of it? Do you have a gardener, Tatyana? Does anyone come and do all the weeding, pruning, trimming, afterstorm debris removal, etc., etc.? Nope. It's only us, mice. Let me look back and see what has been done in my garden during the sunny weekends in April. I usually have several projects going on at the same time. I heard that from my Mom - not to get bored with a job, switch to another and afterwhile get back.
First, I started destroying our lawn. It was laid in 2004, and the first two years it was almost perfect. Then, came moss, bare spots, yellow circles, weeds and craneflies. We aerated and overseeded it almost every spring. It helped for a while, but the winters would damage the grass again, moss will grow again... Maintaining a perfect lawn became a constant battle and as a result, I was allowed to convert a part of the lawn to flower and vegetable beds.
It's not so difficult to remove the turf. I use it in the vegetable/perennial part of the garden. I put pieces of turf, roots up, around small raised beds. It takes a couple of seasons for them to rotten and turn to fine soil. Meanwhile, those pieces of turf help to hold the soil in place without any frames.

Ocasionally, some grass will find a way up and start growing just in time to be removed or covered with another piece of turf.
On the picture below, after removing part of the lawn, I planted hydrangeas. Grasses and perennials will be soon be added.

Another project is converting a strip of land along the garage wall to a shady perennial bed.

Climbing hydrangeas, hostas, grasses plus baby helleborus moved from another part of the garden make this place more attractive.

Our kitchen garden is also getting expanded. My husband made another wooden frame/raised bed that hosts arugula and cabbage.
We put the frame directly on the lawn which was covered with several layers of newspapers. Around the frame, the turf has been removed, mulch laid and baby boxwoods will be added.

On the next picture, there are lettuce, peas, broccoli, cauliflower plus garlic and chives. I dug out melissa and put it in the container since it grows huge and takes a lot of space.

Lettuce grows on the raised beds and in pots. Around the pots, there is garlic and chives that spread on their own.

Well, not to forget 10 cubic yards of mulch that we spread in two days. The borders and beds certainly look dressed up with it.

A number of hours have been spent on weeding. Shotweed is aggressive as never before. Those tiny plants with cute round leaves and white flowers appear like mushrooms after the rain - fast and in big quantities. Hours have also been spent on shrubs that were damaged badly by winter winds and heavy snow. Trenches have been redone to separate borders from the lawn, thereby preventing grass crawling on mulch.

All in all, the garden is getting in shape. New plants include Phygelius croftway Purple Prince (never had it before), Nasturtium Cherry Rose, hosta Gold Standard, another Mister Lincoln rose, two types of climbing fuschias, salvia, blueberry Duke, etc.

Every year I tell myself not to buy new plants, and every year I fail. I like this type of failure.

Yesterday, it was Easter for Orthodox Christians. On the picture below, there are eggs that I colored using onion peel dye. I learned how to do it from my Grandma and Mom (my post Easter Eggs, Bunnies and Russian Paskha ).

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