Albany, the capital of New York State, holds the duel distinction of being the longest continuously chartered city in the United States and the oldest Dutch settlement in America.
At the heart of this historic city is Washington Park, often mistaken for being designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as it displays many of the same philosophical ideals as realized in Manhattan’s Central Park. In fact, one of the park’s designers, John Cuyler, had previously worked for Olmsted and Vaux on Central Park and would later be appointed chief engineer for the New York City Department of Parks from 1872 to 1877.
I mention this because the picturesque rambles of Washington Park is home to the Albany Tulip Festival, which, in a fitting tribute to the city’s Dutch heritage, delights visitors every spring with a colorful showcase of old favorites and new varieties.
With so many attention-grabbing tulips on parade, it seemed the only way a particular tulip could stand out is if the flower possessed a unique characteristic (top image) and/or was conspicuously out of place (image below).
Even so, it was still difficult at times to spot the stand-outs.
And then there were the inherently striking varieties that caught one’s eyes from across the field.
Santa Claus anyone? (Canasta, Fringed family, Blooms late spring)
Poppies or peonies, but definitely not tulips! (Moris Gudanov, Double late family, Blooms late spring)
Lotus and lilies growing on land? Is it possible?
For the majority of tulips though, spectacular in their own right, they were simply outshone by others around them.
Maybe I’m over-attributing, but it does seem that there is a little more than beauty to be observed in a tulip garden.