TULIP TIME IN TOPEKA: Where to see these springtime flower gems and when is the best time to visit
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
One of Topeka’s most treasured "looks-like-spring-is-finally-here" events is Tulip Time, now known as Jerold Binkley Tulip Time. For over 30 years locals and travelers from all across the nation (and sometimes further) relish in the vibrant garden displays.
TABLE OF CONTENTS SEA OF JEWEL-COLORED BLOOMS DORAN ROCK GARDEN AT GAGE PARK TED ENSLEY'S GARDEN AT LAKE SHAWNEE BOTANICAL GARDEN AT WARD MEADE HISTORIC SITE
What once started in the private Topeka home garden of Jerold and Joan Binkley, today flourishes across the city’s three large community gardens and parks. Annually, Shawnee County Parks and Rec with the help of volunteers and Parks for All Foundation plant over 100,000 tulip bulbs in the fall. Tulip bulbs come directly from Holland.
Did You Know? It takes volunteers an estimated 1000+ hours to get the bulbs planted.
As a Midwest state, Kansas weather can be fickle at best. With false springs in late February, winter can feel endless, but come late March to early April Topekan’s know when the tulips emerald green stalks begin to sprout - spring has officially arrived. Speaking of weather, tulips prefer mild temps and tend to be resilient to snow or hard freezes.
SEAS OF JEWEL-COLORED BLOOMS
Once tulips pop open, they will last for roughly three weeks. There are three premier gardens in Topeka to view and photograph the tulips at their peak time. All three are managed by Shawnee County Parks and Recreation - Ted Ensley’s Garden at Lake Shawnee, Doran Rock Garden at Gage Park, and the botanical garden at Ward Meade Historic Site. Below I go into more detail about each location.
TULIP FACTS: Tulips are part of the lily family.
In 2021, Tulip Time was officially renamed Jerold Binkley Tulip Time. Shawnee County Parks and Recreation renamed the event to honor its founder, Jerold Binkley, who passed away in 2018. Come May, after all the blooms are gone, bulbs are dug up and sold to the public for $5 a bag. The sales are typically held at Ward Meade and Lake Shawnee
Visiting Topeka for Tulip Time? While in town make time to tour the Kansas Capitol.
DORAN ROCK GARDEN AT GAGE PARK
Dating back to 1899, Gage Park is Topeka’s most historic community park. Generations of Topekan’s have made memories here. The Reinisch Rose Garden is a popular destination for portrait photography, proposals, and weddings. Just west of the rose garden is Doran Rock Garden where the tulips are planted. Garden beds surround the small pond. The park is named after Topeka attorney Thomas F. Doran, who served as chairman of the rose garden committee.
Where to Park: There is free street parking all around the rose garden and Doran Rock Garden. If it’s a busy time, there is also a parking lot across the street by the Carousel.
What else to see at Gage Park: You can easily enjoy a full day at Gage Park. Along with the gardens, the park is home to a 1998 carousel, or take a one-mile scenic ride on the mini train. Pack a picnic (if you need supplies there is a Dillons grocery store nearby). Kids will love roaming the Play Land and Animal Land playgrounds, or head indoors for hands-on play at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. Before you leave, spend the afternoon watching animals at the Topeka Zoo.
TED ENSLEY'S GARDEN AT LAKE SHAWNEE
Located on the west side of Lake Shawnee, at 37.5 acres, this garden is stunning and spacious. I feel like each time I visit they’ve added new elements. These include a gazebo, pergola, and pagoda with meditation garden to name a few. Paved paths wind through the gardens - great for light walks and are ADA accessible. Along with the tulips in