Tulipmania has come and gone at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I had forgotten about the event it until reminded by a post at Far Out Flora last month. Every year this tourist hot spot on the bay puts together a fabulous flower display, with the focus on Tulips. The pier juts into the bay, so any planting is done in containers. Because the location near Fisherman's Wharf, its often ignored by the locals looking to avoid the maddening crowds. It was fun to see Far Out Flora take the time to photograph this display. It's beautiful and took me back 35 years to the start of my horticulture career.
Right out of high school I attended The College of San Mateo so as to take advantage of their fine horticulture program. It was there where I met Denise Dirickson, who at that time had recently been hired to care for the container gardens at the newly constructed Pier. We attended a horticulture class together, and I always wondered what had happened with Denise.
Through a Tweet from Pier 39 we found out that Denise was still in charge of the horticulture at The Pier after 35 years. During Tulipmania she gives tours of the plantings and according to the SF Examiner has her crew plant "39,000 bulbs from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Most of them are tulips but there are also others such as Narcissus." During the rest of the year the many planters are always well tended, and filled with greenery and flowers.
Through their photographs and blog, Far Out Flora brings to life the beauty that Tulipmania is. That's what the bulb industry needs, a fresh look at what is possible and not tired assumptions and stereotypes. I hope Denise knows her 35 years of work is appreciated by a whole new generation of gardeners. The idea that we are working in a trade that is declining in popularity can be frustrating, to say the least. All those years of working in the garden center or on the pier are actually paying off now with a whole new generation of gardening enthusiasts.
Here are more pictures of the event as well as some other SF novelties. Notice in the picture above how Denise used parsley as filler between the flowers. What a fantastic idea!