Monday, April 05, 2010

All the way from Amsterdam

When I say I have a mania for tulips I do not want you to get the idea that I have caught the obscure Dutch disease of the 17th century and mortgaged the house, sold the car, traded in the Head Gardener and bought sacks filled to the brim with tulip bulbs.  Because things really did get that extreme in Holland at one time. The rarest of the varieties sold for 10 times the annual salary of a tradesman.  Assuming you plumber makes about $60,000 a year, that is $600,000 for one bulb!
Now I am mad about bulbs, and I love tulips, but that amount of money almost beggars belief.  And of course, it was not about the bulbs at all – the whole sensation was perhaps the first economic bubble.  As long as more and more money kept chasing less and less bulbs, the price was forced up, and up, until it all fell down in a heap.  Remind you of anything that has happened recently, with finance companies and house prices?
Still, we can count ourselves lucky because we can buy bulbs at a severely discounted price to 1637, and can afford to splash out and buy enough of these bulbs to make a solid effect.
Normally, I would be against the idea of bulk planting bulbs.  The flowering season is too short and if you get bad weather in the middle of that season, you miss out on a whole year’s worth of blooms.  But I am prepared to make an exception for tulips.  The effect of the massed plantings in the Wellington Botanical Gardens is genuinely amazing – even our non-gardening son was impressed with the display and wandered around taking photographs.
Tulips are relatively easy to grow and flower, for the first year at least.  They will have been grown in ideal conditions over the previous growing season, and the flower will have been formed and lock in deep within the bulbs.  All you need to do is provide it the right conditions and it will sprout forth for you next spring.
There are a few little tricks to bear in mind.  In our conditions it pays to plant tulip bulbs a little later in the season that most other bulbs.  They need a proper period of chilling before they will bloom properly, so it pays to buy pre-chilled bulbs, or to hold off planting until the season is a little cooler.  For warmer areas you can even plant into June, but I would think you would be best to get your bulbs in by the end of this month, or perhaps into early May.


Jennifer AKA keewee said...

I made my first trip to the gardens in November when I was in NZ, it was lovely then, so I can only imagine what it is like when all the tulips are in bloom.

Richard Burton said...

I want to thank you for posting such beautiful flower photographs. I have just discovered your blog and am looking forward to regularly visiting your site to see the beautiful flowers.

Unknown said...

Hi Keewee - I try to get down there each year to see the tulips - double special this year as we had our son, who is struggling to put his life back together after a period of ill health, with us.
Hi Richard - thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy what you see!

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Grow Upside Down Tomatoes said...

This is my second time in your blog and you caught me in awe with this amazing blooming flowers. This is a very inspiring post.