For many, this contemporary classic is the stem that signifies the height of the spring season. Available in hundreds of varieties and an unending variety of colours this simple favourite is sure to look right at home in any arrangement and in any room of the house. From a simple wrap of spring stems in bright colours symbolising the end of the long hard winter and warmer times to come, to a pastel container arrangement of subtle pink hues reminding one of a warmer spring evening, whatever you throw at the delicate yet robust tulip you are sure to see magnificent results.
The tulip is originally native to areas west of the Iberian Peninsula, through to North Africa and Greece, the Balkans, Turkey and even as far as Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran, to name a few.
Even to this day, it has not been confirmed who introduced the tulip to Western Europe, though the story that is most recognised is that an ambassador for Emperor Ferdinand I saw ‘an abundance of flowers everywhere’ and remarked that this was most unusual for the time of year as it was unlike the conditions in which flowers grew in his native country.
So popular is the tulip that in the 1600s, a period known as ‘Tulip Mania’ broke out in the Dutch Golden Age. In this time, the prices for bulbs that were only then recently introduced to Holland reached unprecedentedly high levels before suddenly collapsing. It is said that at the peak of Tulip Mania in March, 1636, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. Most famous perhaps is the ‘Semper Augustus’ tulip. This beautiful tulip variety was sold in the late 1600s for ‘more than a fine home along the canal’, though unfortunately a price has never to this day been revealed.
To grow your own beautiful tulips, plant the bulbs between mid and late autumn – you may notice this is later than most bulbs but a late planting is great at reducing the risk of the disease Tulip Fire’. Furthermore, ensure the bulbs you use are healthy, discard any showing signs of damage or mould as they can have a negative effect on the other bulbs. Leave at least the width of the bulb between bulbs and plant at a depth of two or three times the height of the bulb.