Exploring the colours and traditions of tulips at my local tulip festival...
One of the joys of the return of Spring is definitely the Spring flowers - and as the daffodils die away we're treated to the cheerful colours of tulips.
Last week I went to the Tulip Festival in the gardens in the nearby town of Pocklington, to get some floral inspiration for future drawings... So many beautiful tulips of all different colours...
Tulips are natives of Persia and Turkey but we've really taken to them here in Europe.
Early traders brought tulips back to Europe, and by the 17th Century 'tulip mania' had overtaken much of Europe, with tulips being collected and bred as prized specimens, and exchanging hands for huge amounts of money.
Holland became particularly fond of the beautiful tulips, and now they grow fields of them, and the tulip is considered a national symbol of the Netherlands.
Lincolnshire in the UK, where I spent my earliest years, is also prime tulip growing country, and I remember going to the Spalding Tulip Festival with my grand-parents...
Each year there was an important parade through the town, with impressive floats in every shape imaginable, all created from tulip flowers - spectacular! (and sadly no more!)
The tulip was originally a symbol of paradise on earth for the Turkish people, and a reminder of heaven and eternal life.
By the time tulips reached Holland, the Dutch contemplated the ephemeral nature of life in the short but beautiful life of the tulips.
For the Victorians, the tulip was a symbol of charity.
Today the tulip has come to mean perfect love.
Different colour tulips have slightly different meanings.
Red tulips represent true love, and passion
Pink tulips show an affectionate love
Yellow tulips are for friendship, sunshine and joy, although the original meaning was unrequited love.
White tulips are for apologies, forgiveness and worthiness
Purple tulips represent royalty or a regal nature, or wishes for wealth and prosperity
Variegated or striped tulips celebrate the beautiful eyes of the loved one
We don't seem to have much success with tulips in our own garden - I think perhaps it isn't sunny enough.
If you want tulips to be happy in your garden, plant them somewhere where it's sunny, and where they won't be sat in damp, waterlogged soil.
Tulips can be quite temperamental about flowering the year following planting (and subsequent years) so unless it's particularly sun-baked where you've planted them, it's best to wait until the leaves start to yellow, then dig them up, clean the bulbs off, dry them out, then store them somewhere dark, dry, warm and well-ventilated until you can plant them again next autumn.
Tulips are best planted when it's cool, towards the end of autumn, and should be planted about 2-3 times the height of the bulb, and leave a space between bulbs of about 2 bulb-widths, for the best success. (Wear gloves when planting).
Fingers crossed they'll give you perfect blooms next Spring!