varieties may vary*

We enjoyed our first trip to Pella, Iowa so much…

{at the canal bridge, May 2010}

…that we’ve made a point of going back each year to see the blooming tulips.  This year I think we caught them at the perfect time.

{Main Street}

I followed @TulipTimePella on Twitter for updates on the bloom progression, since our unseasonably warm weather this spring has thrown regular growing cycles completely out of whack.  (For example, I almost died of allergies in March.  That should never happen–hel-lo, nature?!)  Anyway, recently that little blue bird told me the early bloomers had started strutting their stuff.  Indeed.

{No; I don’t cheat with a spritz bottle: it rained before we visited.  Nice, huh?}

Mid- and late-season bloomers have yet to put on their full display, so there’s still time to catch a glimpse if you’re so inclined.  This little city boasts garden after garden, and if you’re a “seen one; seen them all” type, I’ll be bold enough to say that this square mile might surprise you.

Every time we came to another patch of tulips, we exclaimed over something.

“Look at that color!” {near the Klokkenspiel}

“Ooh, look; it’s fringed!”  {Scholte Gardens}

“Look at the size of these things!”  {Main Street}

Although tulips remained the focus of our excursion, a few other diversions deserve mention–and what they sell is edible.  We got to town just after Vander Ploeg Bakery closed.  When we visited in 2010, a local told us Vander Ploeg was more authentically Dutch than Jaarsma, which the local described as “touristy.”  On that advice, we’ve only visited Vander Ploeg, but that wasn’t an option this year.  We branched out.  And I’m not complaining.

 I was tempted to complain when I heard that Jaarsma–which was, as promised, more touristy, with a long line S-ing through tables loaded with kitchsy keychains and plush “clog” house slippers–had run out of Dutch letters.  The indignity!  After we drove all this way!  But the bismarck pictured above proved a worthy substitute.

We took our assorted baked goods to Smokey Row coffeehouse and enjoyed a sugar blitz.  Even if pastry-baking and gardening were the only talents of the Dutch, I would consider them an accomplished culture.  They do those two things excellently!

As dusk fell, we bid farewell to the pretty town of Pella.  But I’m sure we’ll return next year, whenever the tulips decide to bloom.

*Are you the kind of person who immediately looks for the second asterisk as soon as you notice the first one?  (In case the answer is no and you’re confused, I’m referring to the asterisk in the title.)  I borrowed the title from one of this week’s grocery ads.  Under the product photo, tiny print warned, “Varieties may vary,” to which I longed to reply, “That’s why they’re called vari-eties!”  Anyway, it seemed a fitting title for this post, since the varieties of tulips you’ll see in Pella change from year to year.

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