Tulips ….. From Amsterdam?

Saturday, 26 November 2016  |  Alison

Amsterdam, Holland is where most modern bred tulips come from, but Tulips began their rise to fame as wild flowers growing in the mountainous areas of Central Asia.

Tulips were first discovered in the 16th century.   They were brought down from the hillsides to grace the gardens of the wealthy rulers of the Ottoman Empire (present- day Turkey).   

Gradually the popularity of the Tulip flower spread across Europe and arrived in the Netherlands via the Prefect, Clusius, of The Royal Medicinal Gardens in Prague.   He had fled to Holland with his collection of Tulips and so began the great the Dutch love affair with the Tulip.  The bulbs were highly sought after and only the wealthiest could afford to pay the high prices the bulbs fetched.

In 1885 a Dutch grower became the first to streamline the tulip bulb, discarding all but the most perfect specimen bulbs and the Darwin Tulip was born.  This single flower and single colour Tulip was the forerunner to all the hybrids that we see today and many of today’s popular Tulips are hybridised with the Darwin Tulip such as Tulipa ‘Apeldoorn’ (a bright red) and Tulipa ‘Queen of the Night’  (almost black) and the near perfect white of Tulipa ‘Maureen’.

Tulip bulbs are best planted either in late August or the favoured time is now thought to be November/December so the bulbs are not waterlogged and rot in the often wet autumn climate.

Plant your chosen tulips, pointy side up, in borders and beds, at a depth of at least 2/3 times the height of the bulb. This deep planting helps to keep the bulbs in the best condition for continual flowering over a period of years. The bonus is also that they can remain undisturbed as summer bedding plants come and go.    In pots and containers they do not need to be planted so deep, as usually pots are changed every season and new bulbs replanted annually. Don’t discard pot grown tulip bulbs though. Either dry them out and replant into pots in the autumn or plant them your border as soon as you lift them.

A spring garden is not complete without a display of Tulips alongside Daffodils, Narcissus Tête á Tête, Forget-me-Nots and wallflowers.

With so many varieties available there is one to suit most gardens and tastes from the downright frivolousness of ‘BlackParrot’ Tulips; the regal crown like petals of the lily-flowered Tulipa ‘China Pink’ and the austere, tall & elegant flowers of Tulipa’Kinsgsblood’.

A visit to the tulip beds of Holland in springtime is a gardener’s delight but many gardens in the UK open to the public over the Easter holidays and beyond, creating their own beds and borders filled with riots of colour - that is the joy of Tulips!

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