This WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY highlights the wonder of tulips, well-known in most gardens in the United Kingdom. Tulips are amongst the most popular of bulbs, valued for their brilliant flower colours and shapes according to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society). Their flowering time is usually between March to May, so they are not around for long, but while they are in bloom, they are spectacular! The obvious thing to do would be to stagger their planting time between October and November so that you can look at them for longer. Also, if you’re particular to have certain colours, you’ll have to make sure that you marked your bulbs clearly. (I don’t care too much for such detail, I’m just glad to have a few in my garden to admire).
The tulip has a fascinating history and is originally from Kazakhstan where they grew wild in the mountains. During the 16th century part of the country was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, and Sultan Suleyman the First was understandably impressed with its beauty. Istanbul, previously known as Constantinople, an important centre of commerce and culture in the 16th century became known for its amazing gardens. Each year, many came to admire the flowers, especially the tulips in which honour the Sultan gave a feast.
The popular tulip became a symbol of power and wealth and to express this, Ottoman sultans wore a tulip on their turban. Interestingly, the original word for a turban is derived from the Persian word, “tulipan”.
Soon, dignitaries from other parts of the world became interested to own such beauty and from Turkey, the bulbs found their way to the Emperor of Austria’s garden. Some time later, the Emperor gifted a friend of his, Carolus Clusius, some tulips and when Clusius became head of the Hortus Botanicus Leiden, the first tulips were planted in the Netherlands in 1593. Tulips were scarce and therefore very expensive. Clusius also didn’t want to sell or share his knowledge and just continued with his hobby. Unfortunately, some of his beautiful collection was stolen, but many of the bulbs survived tumultuous times and slowly became famous when Rembrandt van Rijn and other famous Dutch painters of the 17th century immortalised the exotic tulip in their paintings.
Tulips in the Spring Breeze
They bow their heads back and forth in the spring breeze. I stare at them in wonder. This extravaganza decorates our garden every year but all too soon their flowers fade. Once again, the bulbs are stored in the dark, patiently waiting for next year’s flowering season.
Tulpe in die Lentebries
Bekoorlik swaai hulle heen in weer, buig lag in die lentebries. Ek staar na hierdie skouspel wat ons tuin jaarliks versier, maar kort voor lank is hulle bloeityd verby. Weereens word die tulpe bolle gestoor in die donker, geduldig, wagtend vir volgende jaar se blomtyd.
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