I readily admit I’ve been suffering from it for some time.
I drool over catalogues in the autumn and wonder just how many more bulbs I can fit in.
I’ve been through the dark phase.
And darks mixed with brights
The pretty phase.
The bright phase.
And the pastels.
I plant them in borders and in pots…..
…. and window boxes.
I photograph, study and paint them, in all their ravishing detail.
I haunt the purveyors of bulbs …
… both at home and abroad
and look forward to that spectacular display in the late spring.
Tulips bulbs were first imported from Turkey (Ottoman Empire) to Vienna in the mid 16th Century.
In Turkey you can often see the tulip motif repeated in embroidery, tiles and carpets.
From Vienna they made their way to Antwerp and Amsterdam, where the possession of these bulbs became a status symbol at a time of trade success and wealth in the Netherlands. The intense colour of the petals was unknown in any other plant in Europe at that time.
In 1636, at the height of “tulip mania” in the Netherlands , bulbs could change hands ten times in a day and some single tulip bulbs were sold for ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.
Of course the bubble burst, but tulips will forever be associated with Amsterdam.
If you want to see tulips planted en masse head for the Floralia festival, held outside Brussels at the Castle of Groot-Bijgaarden. ( 3rd April – 3rd May 2015) where 1 million bulbs are planted each year, including 400 tulip varieties.
At Floralia, it is not just about the tulips – narcissi, hyacinths and fritallaria all take part in a Spring explosion of scent and colour.
So here are tulips mixed with fritillaria imperialis
… and tulips with narcissi
… and white tulips mixed with muscari
Keukenhof is the Dutch festival of tulips and a treat not to be missed either.
The Tulip Gallery is a helpful site if you want to identify a type :
I used to plant my tulip bulbs in November, after the first frost, to avoid the fungal “tulip fire” ; however, over recent years I’ve planted them in late September with good results.
But they do not like waterlogged soil. In their native habitat of Turkey, they spend their summers underground in baking heat, so they do not like heavy damp soils. You can aid drainage by adding some horticultural grit when planting, at least 12cm deep.
You will not be disappointed with the wonderful display in spring.