“TULIPS white and tulips red,
Sweeter than a violet bed!
Say, old Mother Bailey, say
Why your tulips look so gay,
Why they smell so sweet, and why
They bloom on when others die?
“By the pixies’ magic power
Do my tulips always flower,
By the pixies’ magic spell
Do they give so sweet a smell!”
“Tulips, tulips, red and white,
Fill the pixies with delight!
“Pixy women, pixy men,
Seek my tulips from the glen;
Midnight come, they may be heard
Singing sweet as any bird,
Singing their wee babes to rest
In the tulips they love best!”
(Enchanted Tulips and Other Verses for Children. Author: Keary, M. (Maud). Publication Year: 1914. Source: London: Macmillan and Co., 1914. 112 p. Genre: poetrySubject: Children’s poetry, English Bookmark: http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/vwwp/VAB7182)
Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Tulips are indigenous to mountainous areas in temperate climates and need a period of cool dormancy. They thrive in climates with long, cool springs and dry summers. Although perennials, tulip bulbs are often imported to warm-winter areas of the world from cold-winter areas, and are planted in the fall to be treated as annuals.
Depending on the species, tulip plants can grow as short as 4 inches (10 cm) or as high as 28 inches (71 cm). The tulip’s large flowers usually bloom on scapes or subscapose stems that lack bracts. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes. The showy, generally cup- or star-shaped tulip flower has three petals and three sepals, which are often, termed tepals because they are nearly identical. These six tepals are often marked near the bases with darker colorings.
Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colors, except pure blue (several tulips with “blue” in the name have a faint violet hue). Meaning: Avowal. “By this token I declare my passion.”
Origin of Tulips:
Although tulips are often associated with the Netherlands, it was first cultivated in the Ottoman Empire. The word tulip, which earlier appeared in English as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language through the French from Ottoman Turkish tülbend (“muslin” or “gauze”) and previously it was derived from the Persian- delband (“Turban”) because of a perceived resemblance of the shape of a tulip flower to that of a turban.
During the Ottoman Empire, the tulip became very popular in Ottoman territories and was seen as a symbol of abundance and indulgence. As a matter of fact, the era during which the Ottoman Empire was wealthiest is often called the Tulip era or “Lale Devri” in Turkish.
Now these Tulips or Lales as they are also called in Iran, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria comprise many species that together are indigenous to a vast area encompassing parts of Asia, Europe and North Africa.
In Persia, to give a red tulip was to declare your love. The black center of the red tulip was said to represent the lover’s heart, burned to a coal by love’s passion. To give a yellow tulip was to declare your love hopelessly and utterly.
Although it is unknown who first brought the tulip to Northwestern Europe, the most widely accepted belief however is that it was Oghier Ghislain de Busbecq, an ambassador for Ferdinand I of Germany to Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. The year 1594 is considered the official date of the tulip’s first flowering in the Netherlands.
Needless to say from the first the Tulips’ popularity in Europe soared quickly. Carolus Clusius is largely responsible for the spread of tulip bulbs in the final years of the sixteenth century. His first major work on tulips in 1592, he made note of the variations in colour that help make the tulip so admired and while occupying a chair as a faculty member in the school of medicine at the University of Leiden, he planted both a teaching garden and private plot of his own with tulip bulbs. In 1596 and 1598, Clusius suffered thefts from his garden, with over a hundred bulbs stolen in a single raid.
Then between the years of 1634 and 1637, the enthusiasm for the Tulips triggered a speculative frenzy now known as the “Tulip mania”. By this time tulips had become so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency.
Presently, tulips are associated with the Netherlands, and the cultivated forms of the tulip are often called “Dutch tulips.” In addition to the tulip industry and tulip festivals, the Netherlands has the world’s largest permanent display of tulips at Keukenhof, although the display is only open to the public seasonally.
The Tulip’s popularity spread far and wide; it is believed the first tulips in the United States were grown near Spring Pond at the Fay Estate in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts.
Today, Tulip festivals are held throughout the world, including Spalding, England, in Holland and in Morges, Switzerland.
North America being no exception there are several Tulip festivals held every year in Michigan, in the Skagit Valley, Washington, Orange City and Pella, Iowa, and the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada.
Tulips are now also popular in Australia and several festivals are held in September and October, during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring.