Tuesday, 15 May 2012


The tulip is named from the Turkish word for turban, duliband, in reference to its shape and form. They were introduced into Western Europe in the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century in France no woman would be seen without a bunch of the blooms tucked into her bosom and within a few years bulbs were changing hands for fantastic sums.


The craze swept through Flanders into Holland where the Dutch developed a passion for them. Bulb growers vied with each other to produce more exotic varieties and bulbs changed hands for exorbitant prices.

A marvellous fictional account of the Dutch involvement in the tulip trade, Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach, with a marvellously ironic ending, is a must-read for all tulip lovers. (Incidentally, Deborah wrote the book on which the recent film, The Best Most Exotic Marigold Hotel, is based. At one point, the Penelope Wilton character is shown lounging in a deck chair, reading – you guessed it – Tulip Fever!)

Lily-flowered tulips
Each year I invest in yet more tulips – especially the lily-flowered variety which are my personal favourites. With pointed, reflexed petals they are unsurpassed for elegance. Sadly, they often only survive for one year. Garden lore tells that tulips will not thrive if left in the same spot for more than two years running and should be left to die back before being lifted and moved to fresh soil to prevent them from suffering from tulip blight.

One of the finest tulip displays can be seen at Constable Burton Gardens, near Leyburn - a perfect opportunity to Tiptoe through the Tulips


  1. I love tulips but have only ever really suceeded in growing them afresh each year in pots - still I look forward to my tulip pots every spring and I'm still enjoying them now.

    Some beautiful photos here especially the close up of the water lily.

  2. Lovel images on this post. I am surprised how my own tulips viewed from my study window continue to charm even when they collapse and fall apart. I loved Deborah Morggach's book not just for its respect for the elagant tulip. wx

  3. The marvellous thing about tulips is that there are both early and late so the garden can be a mass of colour over quite a long period.
    I plan to buy lots more this autumn for November planting. GW