Tulips are blooming again on campus, but what’s the story behind them?


Elizabeth Lynch, Staff Writer

The tulips are blooming at Rockhurst University once again, lighting up the campus area. Not many know the story behind the tulips, though.

The “Tulips on Troost” campaign was started by Durwin Rice. Rice had the vision to help bridge the racial divide in Kansas City by planting tulips on Troost Avenue. The tulips give locals something to talk about and gives common enjoyment.

Troost Avenue is named after Holland native Dr. Benoist Troost, who was the first physician in the Kansas City area. Holland is a major producer of tulips, which is why tulips are planted on Troost.

According to Alicia Douglas, the Director of Community Relations and Outreach at Rockhurst, the first Tulips on Troost planting around the Rockhurst campus area was completed as a Finucane Service Project. Some of the tulips have come back year after year. Over the course of the Tulips on Troost project, Rockhurst University has planted well over 240,000 tulips.

Matt Young, Rockhurst’s Grounds Foreman, said the tulips at Rockhurst are planted by Rockhurst labor. Yellow tulips used to be planted, but red tulips have been planted for the last nine years because of their hardy variety. Young also noted that tulips look best at their first planting, so from an aesthetic standpoint, it makes sense to purchase new tulips at 22 cents a tulip each year.

The tulips have a bigger purpose than just blooming on campus.

At the end of the growing season, the tulip bulbs are given to Douglas’ department. The tulips are then given away to members of the community to replant, so all of the tulips can remain in the community. According to Douglas, community members love the tulips, and all of the tulip bulbs go quickly.

The tulip plantings do face some challenges. The tulips are hardy, evidenced by this year’s weather changed. The tulips had to overcome late frosts intermixed with warm weather. Also, the squirrels on campus enjoy the bulbs before humans get to enjoy their blooms. Nevertheless, the tulips are a way to engage with the community.