Monday, April 03, 2006

April Fool’s Day: Pink snow?

Blossoms float down from cherry trees that line the park near the Capitol building in Salem. Kids especially enjoyed the snow-like petals that drifted down.

By Elaine Shein

For the children, dogs and their families who visited the cherry trees near the Oregon state Capitol building this past weekend, it was obvious everyone loves the sensory and visual delight of spring’s blossoms here.
With the encouragement of rain and wind, the blossoms danced and swirled around visitors and covered walkways, flowerbeds and hedges like a pink snowstorm. Children giggled and raced through the petals, mothers shook branches over their children’s heads to trigger more petal showers, and almost everyone brought cameras to capture the moment.
A mix of cultures and races, rich and poor, young and old all enjoyed the rows of cherry trees, occasionally kicking up piles of soft petals as they walked. Nature is the great equalizer, where everyone can afford this rich experience at no charge and with no boundaries.
This time of year is when many people admire the blossoms of fruit trees, nut orchards, and later in the spring and summer certain field crops.
Bulb flowers such as daffodils and tulips are also at their peak now, with people celebrating these festivals in places such as Amity (Amity Daffodil Festival) and Junction City in Oregon recently inviting people to enjoy the daffodils.
People who desire to see the gorgeous rows of tulips are welcome at Skagit Valley (Skagit Valley Tulip Festival) in Washington state and the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm at Woodburn.

Tiptoe through the tulips

Barb Iverson, from Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, admitted this becomes a very busy time of year with sometimes long lineups and large crowds as up to 150,000 people per year visit, but people can usually find her and others who work there as they meet and greet visitors and customers who visit.
Anyone who loves old machinery will also enjoy the displays on the farm. They’re great props for pictures, but even better for teaching the next generation about production methods of the past.
In the next few months, the Willamette Valley, Skagit Valley and other areas will continue to provide pockets of color as other farmers grow flowers for sale in the seed or bulb market. From poppies to irises to so many other kinds of flowers, people will find them driving along the various roads in the countryside.

A variety of irises

In May, Keizer, Ore. holds its annual iris festival. Schreiner's Iris Gardens, north of Keizer, is one of the most popular ones to visit. This is one of the largest retail growers of irises in the nation, with 200 acres in the fields and 10 acres open to public viewing. This year, 15 new tall bearded varieties are being introduced, according to the company website, which adds that the Schreiner’s has more than 300 varieties already. This third-generation farm takes pride in being around since 1925, and notes that each rhizome is hand-dug and individually packed for shipping.
Also check out Cooley's Gardens in Silverton, Ore. Around since 1928, Cooley’s Gardens of Silverton, is one of the largest growers of irises, and is also known as the largest tall bearded iris grower in the world. The Cooley family grows more than 600 varieties of irises and has nearly 200 acres of display gardens and fields.
For many people in the West, we are blessed to have so many rich experiences in nature so close to our homes. We get to appreciate the colors and scents of the season, but also have a chance to hopefully learn more about the production of these valuable agricultural crops and thank the people who grow them.


Amity Daffodil Festival
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Junction City
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
Schreiner's Iris Gardens
Cooley's Gardens

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