There’s not many things in the world that say “bad ass” like a tulip garden… Every year I watch the ground in anticipation… Waiting for the little green pencils to poke through the soil… First the snowdrops, crocus and squills… Then the daffodils… Now the tulips… Damn it feels good to be a gardener…
Tulips have been captivating people for hundred of years, tulip mania was a period in the Dutch Golden Age when the price of tulips reached ridiculously high numbers and then suddenly collapsed. The tulip has in fact, turned kings into paupers.
Tulips were considered a valuable luxury in Europe, so a profusion af varieties were created. They were classified into groups: single-hued, multicolored, and bizarre. The multicolored effects of intricate lines and flame-like streaks made these bulbs highly sought-after. It is now known that this effect is due to the bulbs being infected with a tulip-specific mosaic virus, known as the “Tulip breaking virus”, so-called because it breaks the plants lock on a single color of petal.
It can take 7 – 12 years to grow a flowering tulip from seed… While bulbs can produce both seeds and two or three offsets annually, the mother bulb lasts only a few years. Before the demand for broken tulips, virus-free bulbs producing ordinary single-color varieties were sold by the pound. Once affected by the virus, the broken tulips were an extremely limited commodity because the sought-after breaking pattern can only be obtained through offsets, not seeds, as it is only the bulb that is affected by the mosaic virus. unfortunately, the virus that produced the sought-after effects also acted adversely on the bulb, weakening it and retarding propagation of offsets, so the cultivation of the coolest varieties now took even longer.
Today, over 3,000 registered varieties of tulips exist in the world. Each variety has a different shape, height and color. The different types are categorized into 15 groups in accordance to petal color, shape and bloom time. Although Holland grows and exports the majority of these flowers, tulips are now grown throughout the world.
Parts of the tulip are actually edible, and people do eat them. The petals are definitely edible. Apparently they range in taste from a mild bean-like taste to no taste at all. There are conflicting reports on the edibility of the bulbs, some people say they are poisonous, and other people say they are safe.
During World War 2, people in Holland were forced to eat tulip bulbs and it doesn’t sound like they were very good… Apparently tasting like wet saw dust. Some of the more modern reports seem to agree that the taste has not improved, I have no intention of finding out… Plus… I don’t want to be the dude to get knocked out over a nasty tasting tulip bulb.
Tulips are only available in the months of November to May, Bulbs are only available in the fall. A tulip can bloom for a full month in ideal conditions, but no one has perfect conditions. Tulips typically bloom for a week or two, naturalized tulips will go a little longer when left undisturbed. Spring conditions play a huge factor in bloom time, spring storms bring rain, hail and wind that can destroy delicate tulips… Planting in a protected area can help protect them…
Depending on the variety you’ve planted, tulips will begin to bloom from late winter into late spring. If you are growing hybrid tulips, the blooms should be removed as soon as the color begins to fade. This will allow the plant to put its energy back into the bulb so it can produce another flower next year. If you are growing wild or botanical tulips, let them go to seed so they spread.
In both cases, you will want to allow the leaves to yellow and die off naturally, keep the plants watered during this time. If you plan to replace your bulbs every year, you can skip this step, but if you are trying to naturalize or perennialize your tulips, this time is important, this is when the tulip is gathering and storing energy for spring.
Tulips commonly cause allergic reactions in those who handle them, care should be practiced if you show symptoms. Dermatitis is a common occupational hazard of the cutters and sorter that handle them. Tulips are toxic to horses, cats and dogs… Plant them accordingly…
So there you have it… I love tulips and I’m not afraid to admit it… I shot these photos in two hours flat walking around my neighborhood… These photos will also serve the purpose of map… There’s nothing worse than sinking a spade into your garden and popping out all your bulbs… Photos will tell you where you have to dig carefully…
peace – chriscondello
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