Quick Links

Click on a link to go straight to the plant...























Thanks largely to Dutch breeders, there is a large range of colours and flower forms available (look at any good bulb catalogue).  Having fallen in popularity during the mid 20th century, tulips are now coming back into fashion, both in parks and private gardens.  They have the advantages of being very easy to grow, very colourful and relatively cheap.

If you have a variety which is particularly dear to you, the experts advise lifting every year after the foliage dies down.  Store in a cool airy place and replant in the autumn.  They vary a great deal in their willingness to naturalise, but if they like where they are, they’ll go on for years.  It doesn’t matter whether they are named varieties (eg. Fig. 4), or just some that came in a mixed bag from the local DIY like the examples in Fig. 5, which have been in the author’s garden for years and continue to make a colourful focal point in the late spring.


The Flower

Technically, the tulip only has three petals and three sepals. Because they are virtually identical they are sometimes referred to as ‘tepals’.  On ‘Inside the Flower' we like to keep things simple, so we are going to call them petals.  The flower is basically cup shaped and usually brightly coloured (Fig. 6).  The base of the petals is often of a different colour from the rest – it may be darker or lighter.  The stigma has three distinct lobes which correspond to the three separate chambers of the ovary.  There are six shortish stamens arranged symmetrically around the ovary.  These may be in a contrasting colour from the petals which can add to the flower’s overall visual appeal.

You don't need much space to grow a few tulips; even if you only have a tiny garden in the shade of someone else's house, you've still got room for a flower tub or two.  Add some colour to your world; a tub of tulips is one of the few ways in which you can significantly improve your quality of life for less than £5.

And finally ... if the worst comes to the worst, remember: tulips are edible.  They don't taste good, in fact they reputedly taste pretty foul, but they will sustain life.  Towards the end of the Nazi occupation of Holland during WW2, many survived on tulip bulbs, including the film actress Audrey Hepburn.  So grow them, enjoy them, and if the worst case scenario happens - eat them.