Belcarra Garden Club
BC, Canada

Harrison Tulip Festival

by Nora Boekhout


Our first BGC field trip was scheduled for the Harrison Tulip Festival, so “tulips” were the obvious choice for this month’s article. 

tulips tulips tulips

Did you know that tulips originated as a wildflower in Kazakhstan? Their name comes from the Persian word “Tulipan”, which means turban.  They were imported to Istanbul in the 16th century, and the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire celebrated the blooming of tulips with a huge feast!  At one point, it was a crime in Turkey to sell tulips outside of the capital! It wasn’t until 1593 that Carolus Clusius, a botanist, brought them to the Netherlands.  Tulips and tulip hybrids became the rage and were wildly expensive until around 1637. Holland is now the most prolific cultivator of tulips. The lifespan of a tulip bulb is around 2 to 5 years. gives the meaning of tulips as “perfect and deep love”.  Alternatively, the meanings are “rebirth” and “charity”. Colors matter too!  White tulips are for forgiveness and respect, yellow are for cheerfulness and hope, red signify eternal love, pink are for affection, purple are royalty and elegance.  In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth did not allow anyone except the royal family to wear purple! Oh my!


Another interesting fact is that the tulip bulb and flowers are edible! Famine at the end of World War II led the Dutch to discover this. 
(Note: the bitter yellow core of the bulb is poisonous and you also should only use organic, unsprayed bulbs.)



2024 Harrison Tulip Festival by Onos Farms


The Harrison Tulip Festival was 28 acres of delight for the eyes! It is their 18th year of production, but their first year in this new location in Agassiz. The tulip plantings were huge bands of brilliant colors and they boast of 30+ varieties.  The backdrop of mountains really made the vista spectacular. There were also smaller fields of specialty double daffodils and hyacinths.  Old-fashioned machinery, quaint bicycles, a decorative windmill, and giant wooden shoes were dotted along the “Tulip Path” for guests and their children to take fun photos.  There were swings and some games to occupy the kiddos as well.











fritallary fritallary





We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the picnic area, although we were a bit surprised that there was not more of a “Dutch theme” in this area.  We laughed at the music playing… the Beatles, Donovan, and songs from our teenage years!  There were donairs, falafels, and poutine available from two food trucks (delicious, if a bit pricey).  Afterwards we checked out the “Secret Garden” at the back.  It was a charming 2 acre show garden amongst fruit trees and flowering shrubs, with fritallaria punctuating the mixture of lovely daffodils, hyacinths, muscari, and varieties of tulips. The “Farm Shop” did have small packs of “stroop waffles”, but the focus was more on “Dutch” souvenir items and bulbs.
The entry fee ($12 seniors) was reasonable, although if you purchased online the day before it is only $9!  It was a long trip though– 2 hours there on the freeway and 2 hours back along the Mission route, so we had lots of time to chat!  One question we asked ourselves was “what do they do with all those tulips”?  The website explains that the tulips are used for sale as cut flowers and bulbs to greenhouses, and some bulbs are reserved for replanting. (They import bulbs from Holland as well.) We also wondered how many tulips there were… 10 million! Wow!

Thanks to Les, it was a very enjoyable day indeed! Field trips are such fun!

PS. I hear that another wonderful "local" venue is the Abbotsford Tulip Festival. I haven't been there myself... maybe next year! 


This information has been collected from a number of websites, which you can view online below.



Harrison Tulip Festival (Onos Farms)

History of the Tulip

Bulb Basics

The History of Eating Tulips (plus a recipe!)

The Symbolism and Color Meaning of Tulips

Abbotsford Tulip Festival (Lakeland Flowers)


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