Here are the tulips, budded and full-blown, their swoops and dips, their gloss, and poses, the satin of their darks.
– Margaret Atwood
The mountain is ablaze in a wild palette of colors. Known for its 150-year-old gardening tradition and spectacular grounds, the Mohonk Mountain House Resort’s gardening team has outdone itself by planting more than 20,000 tulip bulbs in the great lawn that rolls and recedes from the hotel like gentle waves.
This bedazzling show of blooms is on full display during the Mountain House’s iconic Tulip Festival through May 8. This year, they’ve also teamed up with more than a dozen art students from SUNY Ulster who were commissioned to create Victorian-inspired wire sculptures of insects that were designed and installed to blend seamlessly into the gardens.
According to Madeline Myslow, a publicist for Mohonk, “The resort had always planted tulips, but the last several years it turned into an entire festival.” After a hiatus due to the pandemic, they wanted to reintroduce the festival with even more flair and partnered with SUNY Ulster’s sculpture students to create these unique pieces. “The Mountain House wanted to bring art into the festival and thought that partnering with a local college art department would be the perfect way to do that.”
Festivalgoers are encouraged to tiptoe through the tulips and enjoy finding the sculptures that have been made in the shape of dragonflies, bees, butterflies and ladybugs. You don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy the splendor, as those with day passes are also welcomed to walk through the whimsical outdoor canvas.
According to Tim Hetrick, the Parks and Grounds superintendent at Mohonk, the garden team has two varieties of tulips that they’ve come to love. “The first is the fringed variety, a fun midseason-blooming tulip that has a fringelike appearance on the top of the petal,” said Hetrick. “The other is a French, single late-season variety, which is robust in nature and will bloom until Mothers’ Day on our property.”
Planting 20,000 bulbs in the span of two weeks is no small task. Asked if they planted the bulbs in stages for a cascading effect, Hetrick said, “The bulbs are all planted within the same timeframe. Planting tulip bulbs in stages will not prolong the blooms, as they depend more on variety, temperature and daylight. The show garden itself is not planted until after the last frost threat, so we start planting towards the end of May and wrap it up around the beginning of June.”
In terms of a specific color scheme, Hetrick said, “More times than not, the color scheme finds us, depending on how many of each type of bloom we have to work with. The great thing about tulip color schemes is that most of the varieties we use complement each other well within a garden bed.”
When asked what he and his staff enjoy most about the Tulip Festival and the grounds being swollen with color once the blooms have burst, Hetrick said, “We really enjoy the fact that the show garden is being admired and appreciated by our guests. It gives us a reason to celebrate the first signs of spring and welcome the warm weather.”
There will be a bevy of activities surrounding the Tulip Festival for both overnight guests and day visitors, including a croquet garden party, food demonstrations, a beeswax candlemaking workshop, live music, storytelling and of course, guided hikes around the lake, up to Sky Top’s Smiley Memorial Tower and throughout the wooded trails with Mohonk’s onsite naturalist. To learn more about the Tulip Festival, go to www.mohonk.com/events/nature-outdoors/tulip-festival.