Sunday, May 4, 2014
The Holland, Michigan Tulip Festival should be on the checklist of every gardener. My visit was an early Mother's Day gift.
Plant tulips in the fall. Depending on the variety, the optimal depth is four to eight inches. Tulips bulbs that don't bloom may be planted too deep.
A scoop of bone meal at planting is optimal as the matter breaks down, and nutrients emerge, just as the plant blooms--providing energy when needed.
After blooming, it's not obligatory to allow spent tulip greenery to die back naturally. This can be unsightly. Leave four to six inches exposed above ground when cutting back.
There are only a few spots on earth where the climate is conducive to tip-top tulips. To thrive in droves, they require cold winters, cool springs and fairly dry summers.
Ottowa County in Michigan is one of those lucky areas. Holland is a coastal city on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Proximity to the lake enshrouds the area in temperate weather. Winter winds off the lake produce plenty of blanketing know. Summer breezes keep Holland cool and dry.
Last year we took a daytrip from our home near Detroit. My family gamely set out early on a drizzly and cool Saturday morning. Despite the gray skies, Holland was a rainbow of color. In the downtown area, the common green was awash with dozens of varieties of tulip surrounding gazebos and the bandstand. Along the residential medians, homeowners had created colorful street borders as far and the eye could see.
City parks throughout Holland plant fields of like tulips which rival Europe's finest displays. Windmill Island Gardens on the edge of town is thirty six acres of manicured gardens, with more than 150,000 tulips, dikes, canals and walking paths.
Seated along the main street for lunch, our timing was perfect. Sipping local brewed beer we watched and cheered as a thousand young dancers performed the traditional "Dutch Dance" in twice as many wooden shoes. Surprisingly graceful despite their eight layers of socks. The sound of tapping wood in unison creates a unique soft sound that lifts the heart.
It's a joyful noise.
So there we were watching a thousand folks dancin' in the street when I looked up...
My heart skipped a beat...
Until I realized he was there to protect.
It made me sad that a sweet parade on a spring day had lost some of its innocence.
Damn those monsters in Boston.
But the innocents below were protected.
So offer one up for those who serve and protect us.
Even when we are blissfully unaware.