Next year (2017) will be Canada’a 150th birthday and the Canadian Garden Council, in association with Veseys Bulbs of Prince Edward Island, are offering to help you and your garden club prep for the celebration with a tulip garden giveaway right now. And they’re thinking big. Like, a garden-of-a-thousand-tulips big.
Anyone who’s ever visited Ottawa in the spring knows how prominently tulips figure in the dramatic scenery of Canada’s capital. Over a million blooms create huge swaths of colour in parks close to Capital Hill and along the Rideau Canal. There’s even a Tulip Route you can follow while taking in the Tulip Festival. And if you grew up in Canada, you know from your school lessons that the significance of those tulips hark back to a brief moment when, during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, the Ottawa Civic Hospital was temporarily declared extraterritorial by our government. With the maternity ward considered not-of-Canada, Princess Juliana, a member of the Dutch royal family, could safely give birth to a daughter and the newborn princess declared a Dutch national, rather than receiving dual nationality–important for keeping her status in the line of succession for the Dutch throne. And in a surge of non-territorialistic pride on that day, we flew a Dutch flag atop the Peace Tower and the tower’s carillon bells pealed Dutch music.
Princess Juliana and her children returned to her homeland five years later and she began sending tulips to Canada’s capital to symbolize her gratitude for her stay and for our role in the liberation of the Netherlands. In 1948, after becoming Queen of the Netherlands, she continued to send thousands of tulips to Canada every year of her reign.
So, even though there’s a maple leaf on our flag, the tulip holds a special spot in our hearts. And they happen to come in bright red and brilliant white. If you were so inclined, you could touch both national feel-good bases by planting red and white tulips to make an all-floral Canadian flag. But that would take a lot of bulbs. Which brings me back to my original point.
Thanks to Veseys Bulbs of P.E.I., the Canadian Garden Council is giving away 150 FREE gardens, each consisting of 1,000 red and white tulip bulbs. Eligible applicants include:
- public gardens
- horticultural societies
- garden clubs
The contest is open until August 8, 2016. Winners will receive their tulips in time to plant this fall and celebrate Canada’s birthday with a brilliant blooming garden in spring of 2017. The application process, which includes submitting a brief statement about the importance to your group and your community of creating a 150th Celebration Garden, is outlined in detail on the Program Details page of Canada’s Garden Route. The review committee will ensure that winners will be located across the country.
Lone home gardeners can get involved, too. Veseys Bulbs is selling an exclusive, limited edition of special Celebration Gardens consisting of 75 Red Impression and 75 White Hakuun tulip bulbs. If you’re concerned about exactly when you should plant your new bulbs come fall, check out the totally unscientific 8 Ways You’ll Know It’s Bulb Time.
So at the next meeting of your compatriots, put your heads together and start thinking about plans for a special gardening salute in 2017. Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebration Tulip Garden Giveaway might be a great place to start.