Spring is in the air! As the official gardener of Canada’s Capital, the NCC is responsible for designing the beds and planting close to one million tulips of 100 varieties, in 120 flower beds, across 30 different locations. Here are our top spots for tulip gazing in the Capital:
Parliament Hill is usually decorated with our national colours, red and white. This year, we have added a little twist. The tulips blooming here are “Canada 150” (white with red flames), “Canadian Liberator” (red, in honour of the members of the Canadian troops who took part in the liberation of the Netherlands during the Second World War) and “Double Gudoshnik” (a double-late tulip in a sunny harmony of warm hues, from buttery yellow to salmon, orange and red).
Major’s Hill Park
Major’s Hill Park is the second-most exceptional site to see tulips blooming in the spring. It is also the first Capital park, best known for its vantage points overlooking the Ottawa–Gatineau region. Prominent vistas include the Parliament Buildings, the Ottawa River, and a rich tapestry of both modern and historical architecture.
A warm red, orange, hot pink and yellow palette fills the tulip beds at Major’s Hill Park. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance, which led to the creation of the present-day province of Manitoba. Mostly middle-season cultivars are used to ensure that a majority of the tulips in this park will bloom at the same time. Close to the ruins of Lieutenant Colonel John By’s house, you will find clusters of naturalized spring bulbs as a tribute to this site of historical significance.
Since its creation in the 1927 for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation, the park has evolved over time. However, its design retains some original elements of the picturesque tradition. Many significant commemorative monuments, statues and gardens can be found here. In recent years, measures have been taken to rehabilitate the park in a sustainable way. Over 20,000 Canada 150 tulips will be blooming in the park this spring.
Along the Rideau Canal, you will find the Olympic Garden. In the spring, “Olympic Flame” tulips are paired with “Jan Seignette,” a tulip with reversed colours surrounding the bronze statue bearing an Olympic torch.
This park features the Queen Juliana Gift Bed. Tulip bulbs received as gifts from the Netherlands are planted along with pink and purple double-early tulips, and are among the first in full bloom. As this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance, the largest tulip bed in the park presents a design of waves of red, orange, fuchsia and yellow. Middle- and late-season tulips are used, including tulips from the parrot and fringed groups.
Our test bed is also located in this park. You will see some new and reintroduced tulip varieties planted in panels for monitoring purposes. We test them on their performance and quality before mass planting in our regular flower beds.
As this park is our major tulip display site, there are 30 planting beds, with over 100 varieties of spring bulbs. Early-, middle- and late-season tulips are strategically distributed to ensure that we have a beautiful display of tulips throughout the month of May.
The Friends of the Maplelawn Garden, a dedicated group of volunteers, helps maintain the garden of this national historic site. Maplelawn was established in 1831 by William Thompson, a Scottish immigrant. As an ensemble, the house and remaining walled garden provide a clear record of the way European architectural and landscape ideals were transplanted to Canada. This year, we are working on the restoration of the historical garden walls along Richmond Road.
At the Maplelawn Garden, you will find the Canadian-grown tulips “White Chocolate” and “Blushing Belle.” They are middle-season, solid-colour blooms.
Garden of the Provinces and Territories
Inspired by the design principle of the New Perennial Movement, the Garden of Provinces and Territories contains over 10,000 plants that are representative of species found across Canada’s provinces and territories. The design entails a mixture of perennials and ornamental grasses with naturalized “Spring Green” Viridiflora tulips throughout the beds.
Canadian Museum of History
At the Canadian Museum of History, across from Jacques-Cartier Park, a display of late-season peony tulips in bright cheerful colours can be seen, welcoming travellers on the Quebec side of the Alexandra Bridge. A mix of naturalized spring bulbs has also been introduced in the adjacent traffic triangle.
As you enter Jacques-Cartier Park, you will see the statue of famous hockey player Maurice “the Rocket” Richard of the Montréal Canadiens. The garden beds surrounding him reflect the colours of his team.
Jacques-Cartier Park South is closed for restoration this season, but the north portion, which is north of Highway 5, will remain open.
The International Peace Garden
Since its creation in 1990, Ottawa’s International Peace Garden has featured a display of early-blooming tulips every spring.
In 1990, the City of Ottawa and the Canadian Tulip Festival (an annual event that dates back to the postwar period) presented the United States with a “peace garden” to celebrate the world’s longest undefended border. The dedication of that garden inspired the 1991 creation of the International Peace Garden Foundation, a charitable organization that promotes human rights and advances global friendship. The foundation works with the Canadian Tulip Festival to coordinate the annual gift of a peace garden from country to country, with the latest participant choosing which country to honour next. More gardens have since been created all over the world, from Italy to Japan.
The official residence of the governor general is set amidst 32 hectares of beautifully landscaped grounds of rolling lawns, winding paths, woods, perennial beds and gardens. The Canadian Heritage Garden features 11 circular flowerbeds with over 200 varieties of winter-hardy roses. More than 10,000 trees, including 130 ceremonial trees planted by many distinguished visitors in the Grove of Dedicated Trees. In addition to the entry garden at the Visitor Centre, the Inuit Garden and the Meditation Garden are also open to the public.
This charming linear park once formed a right-of-way for the Ottawa Electric Railway. In 1937, when the unused rails were removed, the land became a neighbourhood park. Once inside the gated Rockeries, you will see Soper’s Fountain, with its cherubs frolicking around the pool, as well as a variety of seasonal flowering plants. The lawn area leading to the fountain showcases a carpet of naturalized daffodils in early spring. In the flower bed along the entrance path, you will find lily-flowered tulips, which open to a star shape under sunlight and close at night. We have also introduced a mix of naturalized flower bulbs, planted in pockets throughout the park.
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