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Tulips On The Table
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

May 11, 2003

Flowers in a vase on the kitchen table are a sure sign of Spring. Blooms will soon be available for that purpose as early flowering shrubs and budding bulbs begin to make their appearance. One of the best spring flowers for cutting is one which gardeners normally leave in the garden to enjoy - tulips!

According to the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center in Brooklyn, NY, Americans buy more than 83 million cut tulips each year — of these, more than 59 million are grown in Holland and shipped to the States, while 24 million are grown in U.S. greenhouses using tulip bulbs from Holland.

Not surprisingly, the greatest quantities, most varieties and best prices are available in February, March and April to coincide with the "biological clock" that prompts people to crave tulips in spring.

Did you know this flower continues to grow in water? It can gain an inch or more in the span of a week, twisting and turning gracefully towards light sources. As a matter of fact, floral arrangers who expect tulips to be “stiff little soldiers” in their creation will always be in for a disappointment. Knowing their nature, you can look forward to their having a different look almost daily.

Some of the very best tulips for cutting include: Angélique - a romantic blush pink peony tulip (I grew this last year and can vouch for it’s excellence!); Don Quichotte - a rose colored tulip that's the ultimate lipstick pink; Attila - a lovely pale purply-violet; Queen of Bartigons - a stunner in pure salmon pink; Pax - brightest pure white; Yokohama - maize yellow; Ile de France - velvety r two-tone petals that are two shades of red; Negrita - a perfectly purple tulip with reddish undertones and Princess Irene- soft orange petals with purple streaks.

Tulips present a clean, perfect shape in a bouquet and as you can see, available in a veritable rainbow of shades. They’re also the ultimate seasonal statement.

Here are a few tips for arranging this colourful spring flower:

  • Tulips, like daisies, look at home in any type of container: from the silliest tin can to the prettiest crystal vase. The tulip will enhance the casualness or elegance of its surroundings.
  • Now is the time of year when the widest variety of tulips is available. If you want to supplement your tulips with others, check out the local florist. They should have a brimming selection. For special occasions, when you want specific varieties or particular shades of colors call them a week ahead to place an order.
  • For longest vase life, choose tulips with flower heads just starting to open (the bud should be closed, but with the color of the flower evident).
  • Before arranging tulips, condition them by re-cutting the base of the stem with a clean sharp knife. This will open up the flower's water uptake channels. Cut flower food is not necessary for tulips.
  • Tulips are particularly thirsty. Check water level daily. Refresh or change water daily for longest vase life.
  • With proper care, tulips should open and last from three to seven days. Keep away from sources of heat (including direct sunlight, radiators, lamps and television sets).
  • Combining tulips with daffodils or any other members of the Narcissus family is not recommended because narcissi exude a slimy substance that shortens the lifespan of other flowers by clogging their water uptake channels.

photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center


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