In my mind, the flower for the month of May should be Tulips. Not really because it’s the official designate but because it seems to me, that May is the month when the weather turns a corner. It seems only fair that a plant that is so delicate, should be at its best then. I’m always impressed , when I see tulips flowering in people’s gardens as early as the last week in March or first week in April. Impressed because, this implies that they planted their bulbs early and so got rewarded earlier with a show of flowers. Because of my very busy life this is very rare for me to plant anything early. Hypothetically, If there were 31 days in November I’d be planting my tulip bulbs on the last day. But sadly, November only has 30 days. And so somehow I managed to find time to plant my current stock of tulips in the last week in November which most gardeners will attest to being late. As always I somehow seemed to have been lucky, as even with the late planting I’m being rewarded now with some beautiful tulips in my flower bed and pots. Come to think of it, I seem to have a penchant for late planting although I won’t recommend that to anyone. Just this January I planted some forgotten daffodil bulbs very late but again somehow they have flowered in my pot in spite of everything. I think this owed very much to the very mild winter we have had this year in the UK or rather in the North East.
But thinking a bit more about my beloved tulips, when I turned thirty a few years ago I wanted tulips on my birthday cake. Why you might ask? They seem a strange choice for a cake as Most people will have opted for roses. Well, tulips remind me of promises and hope. I always feel when Tulips appear that summer is very near and that is indeed something to look forward to. The journey from bulb to flower is quite fascinating. After months in the hard, cold soil, there emerges the beautiful tulip plant. It starts from its leaves shooting up, and then a stalk grows with a tiny bud forming and growing taller while the buds grows larger. Initially the bud is all green, unripe and without any special features. Then, without warning , the green bud begins to transform and develops a colour depending on the variety of tulip that was planted. In time the flower matures and opens up to display a most exquisite flower. From nothing to spectacular. Hope springs forth comes to mind.
With this knowledge and having dabbled a few times with planting tulips, last year I decided to plant two varieties in my flower bed (pictured here) and in some pots and they seem to have done very well. From my little experience,tulips tend not to do well after one or two years in the soil except they are more hardy varieties. So I tend to move them into a pot for the second year and then bin them afterwards, replacing with a new variety. This means there is always something to look forward to in May.
So in a nutshell, what do you need to know about tulips? Well ,they grow from bulbs and are spring blooming perennials. This means they usually grow year on year. While they prefer sandy soils they still do well in most well draining soils. They are great as cut flowers or in an ornamental garden and appear just after daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops emerge. Originating from Europe, Asia and North Africa they have been cultivated for hundreds of years with numerous varieties and come in multiple colours. While researching a bit more about this plant in my garden I came across some interesting ‘facts’ about tulips and what the different colours convey to people.
Pink Tulips: denotes happiness and confidence and a good choice for congratulating someone on a new job or promotion.
Red Tulips: depicts passion and love and interestingly also the flower for an 11th Wedding Anniversary.
White Tulips : the ideal choice when giving an apology or to say you are sorry.
Yellow Tulips : this colour stands for hope and cheerful thoughts and are a token of friendship. The choice for your dear friend who likes flowers.
Purple TulipS: represent royalty
Variegated Tulips: represent beautiful eyes
Orange Tulips : signify energy, enthusiasm, desire, and passion.
I have been in Scarborough this week, the final point of the stage 3 of the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’. The display of Tulips was mesmerising and I had to take a photograph of one of the flower beds as I couldn’t resist.
So finally I wonder, if you had a choice of various coloured tulips, what would you go for?
Copyright 2016 Rachel McIlvenna