By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
The cold weather has kept Orange City's tulips from growing.
With snow still on the ground, we're reminded of the cold spring we've had in Siouxland. And without the warm temperatures, plants don't grow. That's a problem for Orange City, Iowa which relies on traditional Dutch flowers to attract tourists. The town could be facing some tulip troubles.
The city of Orange City plants 27,000 tulips each year along city streets and in city parks. They're suppose bloom around the same time as the Orange City Tulip Festival, which is always the third weekend in May, but the cold weather has kept the flowers from growing.
Brett Mulder's tulips are only about three or four inches tall. In a good year, they would be about eight inches taller than that. The cold spring is to blame.
"It has just taken quite a while for the ground temperatures to really warm up," says Mulder.
Mulder owns the Tulip Town Bulb Company. He sells a lot of bulbs during the Orange City Tulip Festival. But without blooms, business is a bust.
"It affects us quite a bit," says Mulder. "The reason they come to the tulip festival is to see tulips and if they come to visit us and if there's no tulips, then they tend not to come visit us unless they are repeat customers."
But it's not just Mulder's plants. Tulips all around town are smaller than they should be. And with just two weeks to grow before the festival starts, the flowers are about two weeks behind schedule.
"Next week we'd like to see the blooms starting to form and then next week we'd like to see the blooming starting to happen," says Mitch Aalbers, with Orange City's Parks and Rec Department. "Obviously we'll see how the weather plays out and see how far they come along."
The tulips have a lot of growing to do to be ready in time. They need a string of 70-degree days and maybe even a little help from the town's people. An article in the Orange City newsletter jokingly asks residents to warm up tulip beds with their hair dryers.
"That's funny, but we just have to kind of hope for better weather," says Aalbers.
After all, a little hope and a few prayers never hurt.
"No, we just pray there's nothing else we can really do," says Mulder. "We just take it as mother nature gives it to us."
Even if mother nature doesn't cooperate in the next few weeks to produce some beautiful tulips, they say they've always had worse years. If you do head up to the festival, you will see some tulips in full bloom. You'll find the color coming from flower beds where older bulbs are planted. Those bloom about two weeks before the newer bulbs.
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