The Dutch may have the corner on world tulip fame, but if you're not Netherlands-bound this spring, a trip to Agassiz can still net you some serious seasonal colour.
Now in its ninth year, Tulips of the Valley boasts 14 hectares of fields that are covered in more than 20 varieties of vibrant blooms, from the bold pink and white Leo Visser to the elegant white Hakuun, and from the fiery red and yellow Gavota to the delicately ruffled Verona.
"Every single time it's gorgeous – especially with the mountain and the snowy peaks in the background," says Kate Onos-Gilbert of Tulips of the Valley, which can draw up to 3,000 visitors on a busy day. "You see these ribbons of colour; it's like a rainbow."
Grown by Onos Greenhouses, the flowers are fleeting – they last just a couple of weeks – and they aren't being grown for sale. Rather, their bulbs are harvested in June, and the larger ones are used to grow greenhouse tulips that sell in stores across the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in the winter and early spring. The smaller bulbs go back into the ground to continue growing.
But after taking in the breathtaking views, visitors can pick up both cut and potted tulips from the greenhouse, and sample Woodside Kitchen cookies, homemade chicken kebabs and fresh bannock as they stroll through a local farmers market. On the weekend, children's activities include face painting and balloon animals.
Ms. Onos-Gilbert emphasizes that this year's fields are a bit a of a hike from the main parking area – roughly one kilometre along a road – and there is limited accessible parking, so visitors should wear solid shoes or boots that can get muddy. She also warns that the weather can change quickly, so people should dress accordingly.
They should also note that, to protect the field from disease, visitors are not permitted to walk in the fields – although this year there is one path that cuts through the beautiful blossoms.
"Once in a while we're able to manage it, so this year they get their wish," Ms. Onos-Gilbert says. "They can tiptoe through the tulips."
Tulips of the Valley opens Thursday, April 17, and runs until the blooms are gone – usually around two weeks. For hours and directions, visit tulipsofthevalley.com.