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Wet spring delays tulip blooms


An unusually wet, cool spring in Ottawa means tulips are blooming later than expected. Click the image for a look at Tulips across Canada.
An unusually wet, cool spring in Ottawa means tulips are blooming later than expected. Click the image for a look at Tulips across Canada.

Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

May 5, 2011 — The Canadian Tulip Festival begins this weekend in Ottawa, but a wet spring has delayed the blooming of many flowers.

This spring in Ottawa by numbers
This spring in Ottawa by numbers

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, but they seem to be a little behind schedule this year in the nation's capital.

The Canadian Tulip Festival kicks off this weekend in Ottawa, but in many cases the flowers have yet to bloom. Brent Gorman is the Marketing Manager at the Canadian Tulip Festival, and he says the weather is a big reason for the delay.

“This year we've had a very wet spring, so the tulips are ready to bloom now. We anticipate that they will be in full bloom through the festival dates.”

Normally in the month of March, Ottawa gets about 33.6 mm of rain. This year, in the March of 2011, 166 mm of rain fell. Temperatures were also slightly below seasonal in March, but April was warmer than normal in the city.

The NCC annually plants around 400,000 tulips around the city, but the total number of tulips number close to a million. Gorman says the cool, rainy and overcast conditions made it tough for the tulips to bloom on schedule.

“Like any other plant, they require an abundance of sunlight. We haven't seen the sunlight necessary to get these tulips into full bloom.”

Still, the Canadian Tulip Festival is an 18-day event, and Gorman says the flowers should be peaking by next week.

“The National Capital region has three types of tulips: early bloomers, mid bloomers and late bloomers. The early blooms are peaking right now,” he says. “There's a great forecast for the weekend here in the capital, and we anticipate the tulips are ready to pop!”

The Canadian Tulip festival kicks off this weekend. The Agassiz Tulip Festival is wrapping up.
The Canadian Tulip festival kicks off this weekend. The Agassiz Tulip Festival is wrapping up.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the Agassiz Tulip Festival has been running since April 16. Kate Onos-Gilbert says the weather also had an impact on their event this year.

This year we're at least two weeks [open] later than average. I opened on the 16th of April and we had no colour and last year on the 16th of April we were almost in full colour. We had snow last Thursday, we've had 18 degree temperatures, so it's been up and down a lot. We've been struggling with the weather this year, but the flowers still came up, so looking beautiful.

Onos-Gilbert says the ideal weather for the event would be sunny and dry, but they still need rain to keep the flowers growing.

“What we don't like is the hail which we often get. Hail is not good for the plants. The snow wasn't great for them either - tulips don't really like the snow we had in the last couple of weeks. But the wind we do like. The wind keeps the flowers dry, so that prevents a lot of the disease from happening, and we do get quite a bit of wind out here as well.”

The Agassiz Tulip Festival will wrap up on Sunday.

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