Brent Roozen sums it up when he shares, “You can say that tulip farming is pretty much a part of our family DNA!” The Roozen family owns and operates RoozenGaarde, a bulb farm in Mount Vernon specializing in tulips, daffodils, dahlias and zinnias. While peak visitor season is during the annual Tulip Festival, they are open year round and always have something to offer flower enthusiasts.
From the Netherlands to Skagit County, Tulip Farming Is a Roozen Family Passion
The Roozen family started farming tulips in the Netherlands in the 1700s explains Brent. His ancestors grew tulips there for generations, until William and Helen Roozen came to America in 1947, settling in Skagit County. In 1955, they had saved enough to purchase five acres of land to continue the family’s tulip legacy in Washington State. He named the farm Washington Bulb Company.
In 1985, RoozenGaarde was established as the retail division of the Washington Bulb Company, Brent shares. To this day, it features flowers, bulbs, a display garden and a retail garden shop in Mount Vernon.
So why Skagit County you might ask? Brent has the answer. “Skagit Valley has extremely fertile soil and the perfect maritime climate for growing bulbs – near identical to the Netherlands,” he explains. “It’s cool (but not too cold) winters, mild and gradual springs, and warm (but not too hot) summers create an environment that is great for growing and producing tulip and daffodil flowers and bulbs. Precipitation falls at the right times (during the growth of the bulbs) and the skies are generally dry during the summer harvest months when the bulbs are dormant.”
Today, RoozenGaarde is still very much a family-run business. Second-generation family members include Leo Roozen, John Roozen, William Roozen and Richard Roozen. Michele Roozen and Jaynie Roozen married into the family and also work within the company. The third generation includes Brent Roozen, Tyler Roozen and Andrea Roozen. And the fourth generation is up and coming says Brent. “We have some young ones who are already experts at getting dirty!” he adds.
Growing Tulips in Skagit County
As you can imagine, the Roozen family has tulip farming down to an exact science. Their tulip fields are on a six-year rotation, meaning each field rests for five years in between tulip plantings. “Daffodils may follow the tulips, but we prefer to fill as many years as possible with rotation crops,” explains Brent. “Clover plus grass are the preferred crops for rotation, but wheat and grain crops also fill the gaps. The rotation crops help to improve the structure of the soil and replenish vital nutrients, which allows us to grow bigger and better bulbs!”
This means their display garden changes location and design every year! The garden is hand-planted with new creations, color combinations and/or a change in the flower bed shape. “Each year’s goal is the same: to make it better and even more colorful than the year before!” Brent shares. “It takes us about three months to plant our display garden. Thousands of hours of design, planning, planting, care and maintenance are put into the garden each year.”
If you are picturing boring fields of all yellow tulips or daffodils, you’ll be in for a surprise when visiting RoozenGaarde. They offer what might be the widest variety of tulips and daffodils in the state, perhaps in the country! Of course, they have classic tulips, but they also have fringed, parrot, double peony, vridiflora and more. The most difficult to acquire due to supply and demand are the Vaya con Dios and La Belle Epoque, Brent shares. And each year they get new varieties!
For daffodils, they have classic large trumpets, double, split corona and more. “Dutch Master is the world’s most popular daffodil, so it is hardly unique, but always a favorite,” Brent says. “Petit Four is both unique and spectacular.”
Visiting RoozenGaarde in Mount Vernon
Of course, visiting RoozenGaarde during the annual Tulip Festival every April is a must. But don’t think you have to wait! RoozenGaarde offers fresh tulips for sale every week of the year, so you can get a taste of spring even during our dreary months. They even have a Bloom of the Month club where you can have a different fresh flower bundle sent to you each month!
Their retail shop is another great place to stop by year-round. Inside you will find all kinds of great gifts for garden lovers in your life. “Many of our options are made locally and provide you with a taste of the Skagit Valley,” adds Brent.
In the summer, the garden will be in bloom with dahlias and zinnias. Fall is a great time to visit to purchase your own bulbs for fall planting! During the Festival of Family Farms in October, they offer free bulbinars that teach you all about bulbs including planting tips for fields, greenhouses and gardens; best practices for preventing pests; how they harvest their beds; and more gardening secrets from their family to yours.
Then, as it turns to spring again, be sure to order your bulbs early! Customers can start ordering bulbs in March when the new catalog comes out. Brent recommends ordering early as they do sell out of the most popular varieties. And, they have a free bulb offer for early orders too!
For information about RoozenGaarde and to plan your visit, see the RoozenGaarde website.
15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon
360.424.0419, customer service