LEHI -- Don’t put off going to the Tulip Festival when the annual event opens Friday.

If you do, you may miss the tulips.

“The tulip display is absolutely phenomenal, but it’s early,” said Tracy Erdmann, director of Thanksgiving Point Gardens.

The previous 3-4 years have had late spring seasons; not so this year.

“So don’t dawdle,” he said. “If you think you can come in the middle of May, you will miss it.”

The Tulip Festival is the busiest time of year for the Thanksgiving Point Gardens; about one-third of the annual revenue is collected in the first two weeks of the event.

Staff at the Gardens are frantically preparing for the huge tradition that began in 2001. There are vendors, activities and gardening demonstrations to bring into the event.

“It’s crazy fun; I love it,” said Kaylene Wells, manager of the Gardens. “We bring in extra carts; we train new staff.”

There are golf carts to clean, maintain and repair, mulch to throw down and bark chips to throw onto the flower beds, garden furniture to dust off and stocking to do. The list is long.

Thousands will make their way along the path through the Garden’s 15 themed gardens, with its 290,000 tulip bulbs, during the festival.

There are a few new additions to the Gardens this year.

“Some of the displays that are new are really fun,” Erdmann said. “We have two rivers of hyacinths that go off of the pathways out through the woods, which are really fun to see. The daffodils have been planted in stripes that kind of arch their way, ribbon their way out to the woods, which draw your eye to that, you know.”

Erdmann said Esther Henricksen, the garden designer, has done an awesome job.

This is Henricksen’s third year designing the gardens. She previously spent 24 years working for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has designed many of the gardens at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Henricksen is an artist, and prepares her designs by first matching color swatches to live tulip colors. Those swatches become the oils on her palette, and the Gardens is her canvas. Unlike a painting, the design she works with is ever changing.

At the moment the daffodils are nearly done blooming. The tulips are in full bloom, with miniature, large and all the many other varieties displayed.

Visitors will notice blues among the greens, yellows, reds and whites in the 2015 design.

“There is something about these lovely carpets of blue that fill up the in-between spaces of the daffodils and other spring flowers,” Henricksen said.

Another addition is the installation of Jay’s Metal Petals flowers -- large flower sculptures -- at the roundabout behind the Vista Garden.

“And to add to that there is a new access into the Paterre Garden,” Erdman said.

“We found out that so many people have not been into it; they missed seeing it. And so, we’ve added an east and west access, so you can enter it on all four sides.”

There is also a great horned owl nesting on the northwest side of the bridge and walkway above the falls. Gardens staff think it’s an owlet that hatched above the falls.

“Please tell people to treat her with respect and allow her to tend her nest,” Erdmann said. “One year we had to station somebody there, because kids were throwing things at her. Let her have peace.”

The Gardens has been called an oasis in the desert, stately and grand. It has the largest man-made waterfall in the Western Hemisphere, and an amphitheater for concerts, activities and events.

Water is a recurring feature at the secluded site, with cascading fountains, streams and ponds.

For those who would rather not walk the length and breadth of the acreage, golf carts that seat four or six can be rented by the hour.

Golf carts are best used during the Gardens’ least busy times on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when there are no large crowds of students on field trips. The busiest days are typically Saturdays.

And the least busy day at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens?

“When it rains,” Erdmann said.

More information on the Tulip Festival and the Gardens is available at www.thanksgivingpoint.org.

Cathy Allred is north Utah County reporter for the Daily Herald and can be reached at heraldextra.ca@gmail.com and followed on Facebook: North County News.

Daily Herald journalist Cathy Allred covers north Utah County news and events, and acts as a community watchdog.

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