If you are in the Bay Area next Saturday, March 4, don’t miss the opportunity to experience American Tulip Day in San Francisco.

by John Bagnasco

Union Square will be transformed by 80,000 tulips, in honor of International Women’s Day. The public is invited to come and pick a free bouquet of tulips for themselves or as a gift to a woman who has inspired them this past year.

The Mayor of San Francisco, London N. Breed, and the President of Royal Anthos (the Dutch Royal Trade association for Flower Bulbs and Nursery Stock), Henk Westerhof, will open the ceremony at noon. At that time, Westerhof will present the mayor with a bouquet of tulips named after her. “The Dutch people are grateful for the strong relationship with the City of San Francisco. To thank the city and the Mayor for receiving Dutch Queen Maxima in September 2022, we will name a special tulip after Mayor London Breed and gift Dutch tulips to Bay Area residents,” said Consul-General Dirk Janssen.

Growing wild over much of the Near East and Central Asia, tulips were cultivated in Constantinople as early as 1055. By the 15th century, tulips were among the most prized flowers; becoming the symbol of the Ottomans. Introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century, tulips became a much-sought-after commodity during tulip-mania.

The first tulips in the United States were grown near Spring Pond at the Fay Estate in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts. From 1847 to 1865, Richard Fay settled on 500 acres and imported trees and plants from all parts of the world and planted tulips among the meadows of the Fay Estate.

If you want to grow tulips in SoCal, make sure to pick the biggest, firmest, freshest bulbs. Small, pre-packaged bulbs are sure to be a disappointment. Chilling is needed for best results; a 6-week period spent in the vegetable section of your refrigerator.

American Tulip Day - San Francisco