More than 500K tulip bulbs arrive in Michigan city for annual spring festival

Tulip Bulbs in Holland
Posted at 12:21 PM, Oct 20, 2022

HOLLAND, Mich. — Preparation is already underway in Holland, Michigan, for its annual spring tulip festival. after more than 500,000 bulbs arrived after traveling over 3,500 miles.

The city has already started planting hundreds of thousands of bulbs ahead of next year's Tulip Time Festival.

If you visit Holland during the spring, you'll see over one million tulips throughout the city.

Each year, the City of Holland Parks and Recreation Department orders over 500,000 new bulbs to plant in the ground.

"For forever, for decades, they've come from the Netherlands, and they still do that today," said City of Holland's Parks and Recreation Director Andy Kenyon.

The tulips, which travel over 3,500 miles, are a nod to the city's dutch roots. That's despite tulip bulbs being farmed on our country's West Coast.

"We think that tie to the Netherlands is important, and they do too, and they love it. We’re one of their biggest municipal, I guess, exporters or importers of tulip bulbs," said Kenyon.

The end result isn't as simple as it seems. That's because it takes a lot of planning, the department said.

"Earlier this spring, we started this process. We go around town. We pick out the ones that we want to replace and the ones that need to be replaced, and we put the order together and put it out for bid sometime in early June. Then that bid is awarded, and these show up [the] end of September, beginning of October," said Kenyon.

The tulip bulbs are kept in a cooler about the size of a double-car garage. This year, they ordered 550,600 of them.

"Each crate has about 500 bulbs in each one. There are 90 different varieties here. They're all labeled, and then we know what that color is, what variety that is, how soon it's going to bloom, how tall it's going to get, so we design our beds around those specific," said Kenyon.

The bulbs eventually end up in the ground, ready for Tulip Time in the spring.

"It’s a ton of work. Our parks and recreation team put a ton of work and effort into planning it. We have to design the beds, where they're going to go, what kind of tulips, how many tulips, and then we have to figure out how we're going to do it," said Kenyon.

The planting process has already started, and a community plant event took place at the beginning of October.

The department said the successful plants are because of community volunteers, with around 1,000 people helping out each year in addition to its employees.

The tulips for 2023 should be finished being planted by Thanksgiving.

Click here for more information on the Tulip Time Festival. It runs May 6-14, 2023.

Lauren Kummer at WXMI first reported this story.