Woodburn Tulip Festival

While on our trip to Idaho, we took a short detour to visit the beautiful Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in the town of Woodburn (approx. 3 1/2 hrs northeast of Southern Oregon). Meandering through the outskirts of the main town, we passed several lush green farms, trees with ferns growing out of their trunks, and a gorgeous old church, its walls bursting with thousands of stories begging to be told. It stood across the street from an old school house, which boasted its own memories and stories of childhood days past. A familiar, old, steel gray merry-go-round and ladder slide stood ghostly still, vacated in the school’s play yard.

Shortly down the road, tulips by the thousands waited to be photographed and so I did what anybody else with a camera in tow would do and started shooting pictures of tulips. Reds, purples, pinks, yellows and what seemed every color under the sun were waiting to mesmerize the visitor and take their breath away. 


And so they did.

Row upon row of tulips standing upright in anticipation of being photographed for the next enlargement upon the wall of a bragging tourist who had visited these rows. And that is what we were, along with the hundreds of others walking the tulip fields of Woodburn, that cool and cloudy Spring day. Tourists taking a tour, a walk, a journey in an ethereal place.

Workers dotted the large fields as they busied themselves cutting freshly budded tulips to be shipped and sold for arrangements and bouquets. Tractors stood silent at the ends of colorful rows for children to try out their climbing skills and parents to use as props for photographing those little ones for posterities sake. 

A cow ‘trainmobile’ was available for moms and dads of small children needing to be transported for a fun ride from here to there.  A larger hay-ride version was available for bigger ‘kids’ to have a welcomed reprieve from finding they may have absent mindedly walked too far from the main hub while being taken aback by the beauty surrounding them. 

We were thankful to have taken our rubber boots, as mud puddles were frequent but were not frowned upon for after all, the beauty to behold distracts the happy photographers and visitors from the to be expected mud. A child would go nuts here, if allowed to!


Wooden windmills, both life-size and childlike stood stoically on the grounds, giving a sense of being transported to another place. Holland, perhaps? But did you know that tulips originally were wild flowers that grew in Turkey? The name tulip is derived from the Turkish word for turban (tulipa), as the tulip is said to resemble a turban. The flowers were sent to a man named Carolus Clusius by his friend, Ogier Ghislai de Busbecq, who was serving as the ambassador of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Ogier had seen the flower and sent a few bulbs to his friend Carolus for his garden where he lived in Leiden, Vienna.

Carolus, a famous biologist, had become the director of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. Lieden is the oldest botanical garden of Europe, founded in 1587. Clusius planted the bulbs and thus, the beginning of all the bulb fields you see today. When Carolus Clusius wrote the first major book on tulips in 1592, they became so popular that his garden was raided and bulbs stolen on a regular basis.

Tulipmania“, as it was known as, skyrocketed and money was exchanged for these bulbs like nothing you have ever seen. Tulip bulbs went for more the cost of a home in Amsterdam. The “Tulip Crash” was inevitable and forced the government to place restrictions of the trading of this flower. 

The tulip’s popularity is said to have been caused from the exuberant colors, dramatic flames and frilly petals. These flowers had actually, instead, been infected by the mosaic virus, also known as  the Tulip break virus. The virus is famous for its dramatic effects on the flower, such as the streaks found in some tulips. The healthy tulips were supposed to be a solid, smooth, monotone color. The virus causing the mosaic disease infestation had come from a tulip louse (insect) that lived on peaches and potatoes. The diseased varieties, which are no longer sold, are now replaced by varieties that are hybrids which appear similar to the beautifully diseased flowers but are now genetically stable.

The healthy flowers were supposed to be solid, smooth and monotone. The virus came to the tulip from a louse living on peaches and potatoes. These diseased varieties are no longer sold, but what you can find is hybrids that look similar but are genetically stable.

Though tulips originated in Turkey, Holland is best known for these delicate, curvaceous creatures. Known as the “flower shop of the world“, fields of vibrant colors and tulip festivals are  in abundance in springtime. Taking their love of tulips with them, the Dutch people, upon settling in America, went about spreading their memories of home by spreading tulip bulbs within the new land in which they now found themselves. Evidence of their ancestry can be witnessed throughout the United States, abounding mostly in New York and Michigan, where Dutch roots are very strong.

One of my favorite tulips is the Parrot tulip. I had first seen a picture of one of these on a photography site and it took my breath away. Multi-colored, frilly, curvaceous, stunning, crinkly – all in one. Then, not thinking about it, not expecting it – I saw one. To say it was beautiful is to lessen it, to do it an injustice. It stood there, gently being teased by a breeze and swayed as I stood, still. It was as if I were gazing upon the handiwork of the Creator himself. Ahh… but that is indeed what I was doing. It was a moment of worship.

I know man alters, grafts, replicates, and clones… but only God can deliver. Only God can supply the ingredients needed. Ultimately, only God can claim glory. And so, I freely gave it. Right there in that muddy tulip field on that cold, cloudy day.

We took off our boots when we got back to the car and stuffed them into plastic bags which we hadn’t intentionally put in the car but were grateful they were there. Two weeks later and the mud is now dried, but still pasted to the soles and sides. I haven’t cleaned them off yet. Could it be I just want to savor a bit longer the fresh smell of those fields? The colors of those flowers? The wonder of the moments spent there?

It just may be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four − 3 =