Skagit Valley tulips

Tulips rise on narrow green stalks, opening a single brilliant cup of color, reaching to the sun, standing proud. To see a few is delightful, to come around a corner and see a vast carpet of them, spreading to the horizon... it simply takes my breath away.

It's been years since we came to the Skagit Valley to enjoy the annual tulip festival, and with our good spring weather holding for a few more days, we decided to take the MX-5 and spend the day. I'm so glad we can do this sort of thing on a weekday now... one more reason to retire! There were lots of other folks like us, plus families with young children, people exploring the back roads on bicycles, and everyone seemed eager to get out among the flowers and walk. We had a great day.

We found two different fields of flowers to explore, both with plenty of off-road parking along the shoulder. The two big festival areas are great, but they're demonstration gardens with other things to amuse kids... not what we were looking for. We wanted to see the real tulip farms, where they grow tulips for the bulbs (and for cut flowers, while they last).

The fields where we spent the most time were especially beautiful, and not just because they had my favorite reds and pinks and purples. The gently rolling terrain was so much more interesting to photograph, with rows upon rows of color bands stretching out toward the Cascade foothills.

I kept an eye out for the strays that add their own pop of color to a field. At the first field, there were bright yellow tulips in a sea of red as bright as my sports car, and also some yellow tulips that wanted to be red, with color-blocked petals.

I love these white tulips with pink stripes and a faint yellow tinge, standing out in a sea of pink. The buds start out yellow, and open up to pure pink.

If I'm ever brave enough to plant tulips again, I'll intermingle bright red and purple, like these. It is such a gorgeous color combination.

These purple striped tulips were overshadowed when surrounded by bright red, but they more than held their own in a close up.

There were some gorgeous experimental blooms, like this ruffled yellow and red.

Dave in a sea of bright red. Both the dSLR and the Android phone had trouble with this field; the color was so bright it overwhelmed the sensor... and the senses. These tulips are exactly the color of my MX-5.

The permanent outhouses (for field workers) were decorated with clumps of bright pink tulips, especially beautiful against the rough dark green wood.

There is unexpected beauty in looking down.

And there were tulips for sale.

In The Language of Flowers, tulips mean "A Declaration of Love." But I've decided that tulips mean "Joy." Just look at a child's face when they run into a field of tulips, holding their arms open wide, and laughing for sheer joy... and you'll see what I mean.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs the whole month of April, and the tulips are at their peak of perfection right now. Remember that Mother Nature dictates the state of the tulip fields, so come soon. You can see the complete festival schedule here.

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