By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Spring's blooming this weekend with a festival celebrating 10,000 tulips grown in an inner city oasis.
The West Side Community Garden, an Upper West Side plot with entrances on 89th and 90th streets between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, is showcasing thousands of the flowers that volunteers planted last fall.
The public is invited to view the tulips from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on April 16 and 17.
About 150 volunteers spent two days planting 12,000 bulbs in November. It's expected that about 10,000 of those will actually bloom, said West Side Community Garden's board president Jackie Bukowski.
The bulbs are a favorite snack for squirrels, so some don't make it through the winter, he said.
Bukowski said the West Side Community Garden's tulip festival is special because the garden plants unusual varieties, such as Queen of the Night — a black tulip — and Parrot Tulips, which have curled petals.
"We're the creme de la creme of tulip selection," Bukowski said. "You go anywhere and you won't see tulips like these, except in catalogues."
Children under 12 are invited to submit artwork with the theme of "Spring in the Garden." The best pieces will be recognized at the garden's benefit event on June 15.
The West Side Community Garden was started in 1976, Bukowski said.
Back then the land was a vacant lot filled with trash and abandoned cars. Locals called the lot "strip city" because car thieves took stolen vehicles there to strip them, Bukowski said.
Local residents, including parents and students at P.S. 166, which is across the street from the garden, cleaned out the lot and created a non-profit to manage the garden in 1983. The garden has 87 vegetable plots that urban farmers can rent to grow produce.
Aside from nurturing green thumbs, the West Side Community Garden hosts events such as a children's Shakespeare festival and a Sunday afternoon concert series that starts in June.