100,000 Tulips Coming to San Francisco for Flower Bulb Day

March 1, 2020 Updated: March 1, 2020
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SAN FRANCISCO—Visitors to San Francisco’s Union Square will be able to take home tulips for free on March 7, mixing and matching any 15 flowers out of the 100,000 that will be available.

This will be the third year San Francisco has celebrated Flower Bulb Day, also known as American Tulip Day, at Union Square.

The event is being organized by Royal Anthos, a company based in the Netherlands that exports flower bulbs to countries all over the world.

Henk Westerhof, president of Royal Anthos, said the idea came from a similar event organized in Amsterdam, where people pick and choose from 150,000 tulips.

Epoch Times Photo
Visitors pick up tulips in Dam Square in Amsterdam during National Tulip Day on Jan. 18, 2020. (Photo by KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

“The event is very spectacular. Lots of people were coming to Amsterdam to pick their own bunch of tulips,” Westerhof told The Epoch Times. “If you can do it in Amsterdam, why don’t you do it in the United States?”

He decided to hold the event on the West Coast because weather on the East Coast in places like New York or Washington D.C. would be too cold.

The tulips going to San Francisco are grown in Arcadia, California. They will be loaded into trucks the day before and will arrive in the morning to be arranged.

“Most of the products that we show in Union Square, San Francisco, are tulips. We will have 100,000 tulips in different colors, different varieties. We will also show other bulb products like hyacinths, lilies, daffodils,” said Westerhof.

The event is expected to attract 6,000 to 7,000 people, so visitors are advised to use public transportation. It will officially open to the public at 1 p.m. and close by 4:30 p.m.

There will be two entrances this year on the north side of Union Square. A limited number of people will be picking tulips at any given time, and everyone else will wait in line. There will be 25 volunteers from the Netherlands helping ease congestion and provide security.

“Last year we had queues all around Union Square. People had to wait for one to one and a half hours. And last year it was raining cats and dogs,” said Westerhof.

Westerhof said people started lining up at 10 a.m., and by 4 p.m. he had to tell people in line to go home because there were no more flowers.

The organization’s goal is to educate people about flower bulbs, and the volunteers will inform those in line about bulbs.

“They also will give advice to the people and tell them something about the history of the tulip, how to handle tulips, what can you do with tulips, so that people who will visit the place also get a lot of information about bulbs,” he said.

“With this type of campaigning, we try to educate people. We also try to build up awareness, because bulbs are a seasonal product. If you want to buy … a tulip bulb, then you have to do it in autumn, and then you have to plant it in your garden, and you have a flower out of it somewhere in spring,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
People pick free tulips during National Tulip Day in Dam Square in Amsterdam on Jan. 20, 2018. (BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s in a Tulip?

The vibrant cup-shaped flowers signify the start of spring. The different colors of tulips convey different meanings.

Red tulips represent love, passion, and power. It is appropriate to give them to that special someone.

Orange flowers mean there is a mutual understanding and appreciation in a relationship. They usually represent a feeling of connectedness.

Yellow tulips have many meanings. In the past, they were linked to more negative connotations like unrequited love, jealousy, sickness, and deception. Now they have positive meanings like happiness, hope, loyalty, and enlightenment.

Blue tulips are rare, but there are breeders who attempt to grow flowers close to the color. They stand for individuality and uniqueness. When given to someone, they convey trust and loyalty.

Purple flowers represent royalty or nobility, as does the color purple in general. These flowers are therefore associated with wealth, prosperity, and elegance.

Pink tulips convey affection and love for friends and family in an unromantic way. They symbolize kindness, femininity, and inner peace.

White flowers symbolize apology. They are often given during funerals to give condolences. They also mean purity, honor, and holiness.

“People in Sweden and Europe … like the pink colors, but in other countries people like red or yellow. If you go closer to Easter, then people buy a lot of yellow tulips. That depends a little on the season, the moment, and also the country,” said Westerhof.