Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley tulips

April brings us the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I photographed these beautiful Golden Apeldoorn tulips just around the corner from Dunbar Gardens. This field is located next to McLean Road and has been designated Field 26 on the Roozengaarde “bloom map“. Washington Bulb Company is the largest bulb grower in the US and these tulips are part of their farm production. They have this bloom map on their website that you can check to see the locations of the fields, whether they are in bloom, and which bulb varieties are growing there. This lovely field has Golden Apeldoorn and Elite tulips just beginning to bloom, so it should be a traffic stopper the next couple of weeks.

big clouds over Skagit Valley tulipsThis year above average temperatures have the tulips blooming on the early side. The tulip festival is designated as the month of April, but visitors have already started coming and the early part of the month will be the best part of the”show”. Yesterday we were treated to these impressive clouds over the valley as well. (Click on photo for larger view.)

Skagit Valley tulips

The tulip fields have packed soil roads that are used by the  farm equipment and workers. As long as you stay on these wide paths you can go into the fields and take a few photos. I like to ride the bike down the road and into the field  with my camera. There is a local business Tulip Country Bike Tours that offers bike tours of the flower fields, display gardens, and refreshments and is customized to the weather and field bloom as well as the preference of the group.  They usually ride past Dunbar Gardens on their way back to the home base. It’s enjoyable to meet the variety of people from many places who stop in on one of the bike tours. The smiles on their faces are recommendation enough for taking a bike tour instead of hassling with a car on our country roads.

Dunbar Gardens sign

Hopefully when you visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival you might run across one of our signs pointing the way to another roadside attraction! We don’t offer any frills or thrills, but we have this nice selection of willow baskets to check out.

Katherine Lewis willow baskets

Our small farm is admittedly pretty rustic, and I think many visitors that wander down our driveway are surprised at the quality of the willow baskets that they find in our barn. There are few willow basketmakers around let alone one as accomplished as Katherine Lewis. It is enjoyable to explain how we grow the basketry willows, and show folks the freshly harvested bundles.

basketry willows at Dunbar Gardens

Of course, our baskets are available any time of year. We don’t mind if the tulips are the headline act for Spring visitors to our beautiful valley. We figure they will be back to get a taste of the wonderful fruits and vegetables also grown in the valley, take in the Festival of Family Farms in October, or maybe a visit to nearby La Conner to take in the Museum of Northwest Art and eat at our favorite Skagit restaurant Nell Thorn. Stop by, we’re around!


Willow basketry class schedule

Katherine lewis, willow basketry teacher

We have posted a new schedule of willow basket making classes by Katherine Lewis for the first half of 2010. You can view all the info on the basket classes page on the Dunbar Gardens website. She is offering a variety of baskets and techniques, as well as trying to accommodate weavers with different levels of willow experience in most classes.

  • February 27-28: Scallomed projects – oval shopper, magazine basket, square shopper
  • April 10-11: Stake and strand projects – round gathering basket, oval shopper, oval garden basket
  • May 1-2: Irish potato basket and fruit basket
  • June 26-27: stake and strand projects – gathering basket, round laundry with roped handles, oval laundry
  • mid August (specific dates to be announced): repeat of scallomed class from February

Katherine is also organizing an in depth four day class for July. This class will be for a smaller number of weavers looking for a more extensive experience. Possible projects will include square work and fitching. Some students have been asking for more in depth work with Katherine, and this will be the chance. People interested can contact Katherine for more details. (Need I say weavers with the necessary hand strength to go four days?)

fitched willow basket by Katherine Lewis

We have also listed a couple of classes that she is teaching in other locations. She is offering an “Intro to fitching class” at the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild Spring Retreat March 25-26. The project is a lovely oval market basket. Katherine will also be traveling to Portland, Oregon May 20-24 to give a presentation and class to members of the Columbia Basin Basketry Guild.

Visit our website for more details, registration form, and photos of the baskets and past classes.


weaving a willow garden basket

I photographed Katherine weaving a willow garden basket in October, 2007. Recently I picked out 15 of them for a set that I posted to our account. The photos were taken in one of our barns on the farm.You can see some of the dried basketry willow from our farm behind Katherine. There is also a selection of finished baskets. The amazing detail is that our cat Spike only appears in one photo!

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To be clear, Katherine doesn’t normally work here. These photos were taken for a magazine article that appeared in the April 2008 issue of Romantic Homes. The issue had a focus on “ways to shop green” and “French style”. Katherine was the featured artisan in an article entitled “A Basket Case”. The editor asked us to provide some photos of Katherine at work and on our farm. They did a nice job of taking what we sent and cropping it for a nice mix of images.

Jacqueline deMontravel wrote in the article, “Shopping with a basket is as classic and stylish as a designer bag that warrants a waiting list. As the trend catches on, such style will do more than liven up grocery aisles, it will benefit the world….Katherine says”It’s a purchase for something local, making an investment for a well-made item.”” Well in the photos we took she is weaving a garden basket, but maybe you’ll get the idea!


Baskets in the barn

willow baskets for sale

willow baskets by Katherine Lewis

We have a nice selection of Katherine’s willow baskets  displayed in our barn at Dunbar Gardens right now. If you’re in the area, come by for a look. If not, enjoy the photo! If you’re curious about buying a basket, you can always check our website for the baskets we have currently made for sale here. Baskets can always be made to order. Check out this page on our website for more details. If you want to know where we are, here is a map.