The tulips are now up in our garden. We have a lovely array this year. These orange and dark colours.
These lovely pink blousey ones, a bit like roses.
These red ones also look a bit like roses with their multiple petals which feel like velvet.
Tulips came to Europe in the sixteenth century from Turkey. The Turks particularly liked tulips with elegant, pointed petals, a bit like this modern version.
Tulips sent the Dutch mad during the period 1634-37. This was the period of Tulipomania when single bulbs of rare tulips could sell for the price of a town house in Amsterdam, or 15 years of the wages of a bricklayer! The most valuable tulips were those that were 'broken' rather than plain-coloured. This is an example of a broken tulip growing in our garden. It looks as though the red has been painted onto the cream background. At the time nobody knew how the break was created (and this made it hard to reproduce) - we now know that it was caused by a virus spread by aphids!
Today tulips are very cheap in Amsterdam. When we visited last year you could buy 50 stems of lovely tulips for just 12 euros,
And we found mass plantings all over Amsterdam - like these (with hyacinths) outside the Rijks Museum.
Closer to home, I spied these gorgeous white tulips in a mass planting at Chatsworth last May.
I have pondered on the best way of arranging tulips. I really like them simply presented so that each individual, magnificent stem can be fully appreciated.
Or, how about this.
Tulips also look great mixed in with other seasonal flowers to create a painterly sort of arrangement. I have included hellebores, soloman's seal, bluebells, vibernum, alstroemeria and roses in this one.
If you would like to know more about the fascinating story of the Tulip have a look at Anna Pavord's masterful work The Tulip which includes some stunning images.