April 23, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Catch the last of tulip time, with a “Secret Garden” bonus
Coming up is the final weekend of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and my weekend drive through the valley found some tulip fields still brilliant with blooms. But don’t wait long if you want to see them.
My first newspaper job was in Mount Vernon, back in the Cretaceous before the tulips had a festival, and there were days when we were the only gawkers stopped at the roadside to take pictures. But you might still experience that if you get up there on a weekday morning — and the sunny days this week would be a perfect time. From Seattle it’s just about an hour up the freeway.
Washington Bulb Co., the big grower, has already started cutting the tops off tulips in some fields — a necessary step in maturing the bulbs — but they’re saving several fields for as long as possible this week. See their bloom map for details on where to find blossoms. They also promise good blooms at least through month’s end at their RoozenGaarde display garden on Beaver Marsh Road.
And if you go up this weekend, you can also catch one of the final shows of a theatrical production that fits hand in garden-glove with the tulip festival. The classic old Lincoln Theatre in downtown Mount Vernon hosts a musical production of “The Secret Garden,” staged by the local META (Multicultural Educational Theatre Arts) company. $10-$24; tickets available here.
Traffic tip: The backup of homeward- bound tulip visitors aiming for Interstate 5 via downtown Mount Vernon was miles long Sunday evening. We turned around and took Best Road south to cross Fir Island to Conway, and got on the freeway at Exit 221 with no wait. On your way to the tulips, take the same exit northbound and follow “Tulip routes” signs, via Fir Island Road and emerging into the valley on Best Road. It’s prettier than the freeway, and passes Snow Goose Produce, home of famed “immodest” ice cream cones. (Expect lines there, too.)
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