Far Out Flora

Traipsing Through The Tulips


Tulip time

Last Sunday Matti and I walked over to the Dutch (North) Windmill in Golden Gate Park to check out the tulip action. They had taken quite a beating from the storm the night before, but were still looking tulipy.


Way back in 1902 the windmill was built to irrigate the plants in Golden Gate Park. A year later a cottage was built for the caretaker, who not only made sure the windmill was positioned to harness the wind, but raised veggies for the animals in Golden Gate Park. I was surprised to learn that both of the windmills in the park were on their way to being obsolete in 1913, when motorized pumps were installed. The second windmill, only a block and a half from our place is still undergoing renovation.

More tulips

Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Eleanor Rossi Crabtree, the windmill was restored in 1980 after falling in to major disrepair. The Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden was created too. I’ve been trying to find some info about the tulips, but haven’t been able to find any info about them. Anyone know anything about them?

Close up

Tired tulips


  1. Wow, I didn’t know tulips could be grown in San Fran! Here in Florida the winters are too short and the summers too hot. I love the first photo!

  2. There’s something about red tulips that screams spring! I love the picture of the “tired tulips”

  3. its already that time…beautiful.

    hope the garden is doing well with the cold front again.

    come tour a garden i just blogged about recently when you have a chance.

  4. How beautiful! When I first opened the post, I thought you guys had gone to Amsterdam!!!

  5. It’s funny–I spend so much time admiring CA natives or alien succulents or the plethora of Mediterranean-climate plants here, that I forget that tulips are gorgeous. I love how their snakey stems really have a mind of their own….

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  7. Just stumbled across this site…I’m a San Francisco City Guide and I lead a walking tour of the windmill and the West end of the Park, so I have some knowledge of the garden, which is maintained by just a couple of gardeners in district 6 of the Park.

    The tulip garden was created in 1962 at the urging of San Francisco’s Dutch community, to commemorate the passing that year of Queen Wilhelmina. She ascended the throne of the Netherlands as a teenager in 1898 and led the government in exile in London during WWII. She abdicated in favor of her daughter for health reasons in 1948. The original garden area around the windmill was reduced (it once extended south to the road across from the golf course and included a reflecting pool and small waterfall; a keeper’s cottage to the east burned down in the late 1950s). Hedges were planted and the garden laid out that would display tulips during the early spring.

    Initially there were perhaps as many as 10,000 tulip bulbs put down each fall; today there are roughly 3,000 tulips planted yearly, as budget constraints have severely affected all gardening in the park. The bulbs are overplanted with a winter cover — usually Icelandic poppies and English primrose. When the bloom is over (late March or so) the garden gets a cover of spring annuals such as pansies. When summer arrives, the bulbs are dug up (and, to my knowledge, not stored but given away or discarded, as there is insufficient cold storage and the ground never becomes cold enough for them to bloom a second year). The garden then receives a cover of summer annuals (petunias) or perennials treated as annuals (begonias), and the cycle repeats in the fall.

    • Rory, that is an incredible wealth of knowledge. I know what your talking about referring to cold storage of the tulips. I know a coupe of people that do a small crop of them leaving the bulbs sit next to their Chardonnay. Matti

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