Can we at last say Spring is well and truly here! Today I caught my first glimpse of an early flowering Tulip a beautiful red and yellow variety a splash of intense colour against the dark cold soil.
Tulips are one of my favourite flowers with over 150 species and more than 3000 varieties there are plenty to choose from. Most Tulips sprout a single flower but some varieties can have up to 4 on a single stem. Tulips are part of the Lily family and can be found in almost any colour from the darkest almost black to the purest white with different colours having different meanings....Red symbolizes true love, Purple represents loyalty and White means I'm sorry.
Tulips are native to central Asia but only reached popularity after reaching the Netherlands.They were once the Worlds most expensive flower peaking 1634-1637 when they were said to cost around 10 times the average working mans salary in the Netherlands making them more valuable than a house.
Tulip petals are edible and can be used in place of onions but the bulbs are toxic especially to cats and dogs inducing vomiting and affecting their nervous system.
Netherlands are the largest commercial producers of Tulips exporting around 3 billion stems a year. A cut Tulip will continue to grow at least another inch and will bend and twist towards the light even in a vase. Some people claim that adding a penny coin to the water in the vase will make them last longer but I prefer the commercial flower food that feeds and disinfects the water maximizing their vase life. Fresh cut Tulips will last at least a week in a vase and sometimes will manage two weeks if kept in a cool room.
Best time to plant Tulips either in the garden or containers is late Autumn when conditions are still warm enough for them to develop roots before the real cold of winter sets in. Buying healthy firm bulbs and planting 6 inches apart for the garden at about two to three times the depth of the bulb. In Spring when new growth appears slugs can be a pest so a suitable precaution needs to be in place. Green fly again can be a nuisance in a warm Spring effecting the stem and flowers.
Tulips are a real jewel in the Spring garden, so easy to grow, giving so much colour and joy.