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A Passion for Tulips article

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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 4:53 pm    Post subject: A Passion for Tulips article Reply with quote

Nothing marks the departure of spring with such escalation than that of the tulip. It has little to do with their colour or stature, although these assets do contribute immensely to the tulips voluptuousness, it is more the exquisite design, the way their petals intimately fall into place, that is the true desire in the tulip.

I believe the month of May to be the best time to see tulips in all their glory. When the country hedgerows are christened with cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and the busy little roads leading from one town to another are enclosed by the enchantment of sweetly-scented blooms of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), one of our native beauties which we should all boast about.

Be it dampened with rain, chilled by gale-force winds or scorched by blazing sun nothing stops the profusion of the tulip. Now, as in any other plant, there are 'real' tulips and there are 'plastic' tulips. Not the sort you'd buy at a market somewhere in Holland. I'm talking about the garishly coloured hybrids which are cheap but which, quite frankly, do not deserve a place in the Tulip hall of fame.

In this garden tulips dominate the herbaceous borders for a mere three weeks, overtaking daffodils (which by the middle of April I am terribly sick of; after all there are only so many daffodils a man can take!) and being passed the baton by helleborus nigra and primula denticulata (the drumstick primula) so, when looked upon with such dignity, should not be taken lightly.

There are somewhat hundreds, if not thousands of varieties on offer (most of which stem from Holland's breeding regimes) although some may prove challenging to obtain. However do not allow this to put you off tulips for life, as there is a cornucopia of varieties easily identified and easy to find and here are two of my firm favourites:

Tulipa 'Queen of the night' takes centre stage in the vegetable garden in the first few weeks of May. Their slender stems rise from the earth and are topped with the most delicious black petals which make ideal cut flowers. But deep inside this tulip a hidden secret lies. Look within the goblet of petals and you will notice that the stigma is the purest of whites. There is no better erotic contrast between ebony and ivory available than this at the dawn of summer.

Another variety, maybe a little more subtle, that deserves a place on my list without a doubt is Tulipa 'Spring green'. No other tulip could offer such unique bicoloured blooms; the creamy petals are marked with a hint of lime green as though someone has got hold of a paintbrush and splashed, with style, the petals with green paint. Personally, I find this variety a true gem and a good overall performer and one with which no garden should be without.

Originating from the dry slopes of the areas now known as Iran, Turkey and Iraq, Tulips require good sharp drainage (nothing a bit of horticultural grit can't mend) and appreciate a good baking throughout the summer months (Ummmm... heat wave?)
So why do gardeners grow such plants which prove difficult? Well, that's another story and possibly another article so maybe, just maybe, that's one for the future...
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