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Flower Fields

So, the results are in and the exciting new rainbow collection of tulips is available. But what’s the story behind these quintessential spring flowers? And what secrets do they hide?

  • Fringed-lily-flowered-and-single-late-tulipsAlthough Holland is famous for tulips, they’re not really Dutch at all – tulips actually come from Iran and Central Asia. They are a significant plant in Iranian culture – the country’s flag even contains a stylised representation of the tulip.
  • There are more than 2,000 varieties of tulips, and they’re grouped into 15 ‘divisions’ – these divisions are largely based on flower type, which can include singles, doubles; cup-shaped, bowl-shaped or goblet-shaped; fringed, parrot or lily-flowered; and even star-shaped.
  • Flower FieldsTulips come in every colour of the rainbow (except true blue) and some are scented, such as ‘Cartouche’
  • You can grow tulips as rock plants – there are some tiny varieties that only grow a couple of inches tall and are suitable for rock gardens and windowboxes – for example the cheery little ‘Red Riding Hood’

  • Tulip-Red-Riding-HoodIt’s best to make tulips one of the last bulbs you plant in the autumn – trials have shown you can even plant them in January (as long as the soil isn’t frozen) and they come up just fine. If you plant them too early they can be susceptible to a disease called ‘tulip fire’.
  • Tulips once sold for the price of houses in what could be described as the world’s first stock market bubble, ‘tulipmania’ – which gripped the Netherlands in the 1630s
  • Tulips won every single category in Bakker Spalding’s ‘Plant a rainbow’ Facebook poll!
  • dsc00436-930x618Once they have been cut, tulips keep on growing – adding up to another inch in height when they’re in the vase. They lean towards the light and twist gracefully, adding drama to bouquets of cut flowers.
  • Tulips are native to mountainous areas – in the wild they are used to moisture from melting snow in spring, followed by hot dry summers. This is the reason behind the practice of lifting the bulbs in summer – to keep them warm and dry and make them feel at home.
  • The Netherlands is the world’s biggest producer of tulips – growing a staggering 4.2 BILLION bulbs a year! Around half are exported and the most of the rest are grown on for cut flowers.

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