By William Hrycan
The stunning ‘Canada 150’ flowers are pure white with a bright red flame. It is reminiscent of the points of the red maple leaf on our national flag and also symbolic of the Centennial Flame burning on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
‘Canada 150’ is classified as a triumph tulip, which means the flowers are large, the stems are tall and strong, and the blossom is a traditional tulip shape. It is hardy and should overwinter and re-bloom in most areas across Canada, although some winter protection will help ensure a strong spring bloom in colder regions.
As with other tulips, plant your bulbs five to six inches deep in fertile, well-drained loose soil in early autumn, in a spot where they will receive full sun. Water well, provide mulch (or ensure adequate snow cover) for added winter protection, and enjoy the spring flowers. Remove spent blossoms following flowering, but leave the foliage undisturbed to feed the bulb for flowers next season. The leaves will slowly turn yellow and go dormant by mid summer.
The National Capital Commission (official gardener of Canada’s capital) is partnering with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Communities in Bloom and Home Hardware to make the ‘Canada 150’ tulip available across the country. The special bulb will be available again this autumn at Home Hardware, exclusive retailer for the ‘Canada 150’ tulip.
The Canadian Tulip Festival
In 1940, following the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, members of the Dutch royal family fled the country, travelling first to the United Kingdom and then to Canada. Princess Juliana and her two young daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Irene arrived in Ottawa in June of 1940; Princess Margriet was born at Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943.
The royal family spent five years in Canada, weathering the war in safety. In 1945, Canadian soldiers played a key role in liberating the Netherlands from Nazi occupation, paving the way for the return of the Dutch monarchy.
After the war, Princess Juliana and her daughters were reunited with the rest of their family and returned home. As a token of gratitude, she gifted Canada with 100,000 tulip bulbs. This gift was repeated year after year, and Ottawa became known for its magnificent tulip displays. The Canadian Tulip Festival began in 1953 as a celebration of the arrival of spring and a commemoration of Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands. The number of bulbs planted increased steadily, and today, more than one million tulip bulbs bloom in gardens throughout the capital.
This spring, more than 300,000 ‘Canada 150’ tulips will add to the parade of colour across the National Capital Region.