One of my absolute favorite flowers is the Tulip! Tulips are so beautiful and can add so much movement in an arrangement. There are over 150 species of Tulips with 3,000 different varieties. Needless to say, there is a tulip out there for every unique taste.
A Brief History of Tulips
Tulips are a symbol of life, love, and immortality and date back to the time of Confucius. However, Tulips were actually first cultivated around the 10th century in Persia. In Holland, by the late 1600’s bulb prices often exceeded the price of precious metals and a single bulb is said to have sold for more than $2,000! Can you imagine what a bouquet of tulips would have set you back?
It is believed that the first tulips were brought to the United States between 1847 to 1865. It was during this time that Richard Sullivan Fay, Esq., settled the Faye Estate, located in Lynn and Salem, Massachusetts. Mr. Faye imported all sorts of trees and plants from all over the world and planted them out on the meadows of his estate.
Currently, the Netherlands are the world’s main producer of commercial tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion (what!!!) bulbs annually, and the majority are for export.
Varieties on Varieties
As I mentioned before, there over 3,000 varieties of tulips. Most people have heard of French tulips which are originally from France (interesting fact... did you know that they are a hybrid that was actually developed in the United States), but I get so many questions on what other varieties of tulips are called that clients have seen at a local farmer's market or in those gorgeous Pinterest images we all love to scroll through for inspiration. Let me detail a few varieties I have worked with over the years.
This variety makes up the largest group of Tulips and offers the widest range of colors. They are somewhat daintier than the “Darwin Hybrids” (another Tulip variety that is very commonly seen in the United States) and offer more exquisite pastel-colored sheens.
These gorgeous tulips (my personal favorite) come in bold colors that are distinct to their variety. They are also almost perfectly symmetrical and are long-lasting semi double to double flowers. These varieties of tulips bear a striking resemblance to double Peonies so they can make a beautiful alternative flower if double peonies are not within your floral budget.
Also known as “Crispa” tulips, Fringed tulips have become very popular in the recent years. They are mutants (like the turtles) from various other groups so their heights and flowering timeframe can vary quite a bit. Their petals are edged with very finely cut fringes, and typically are the same color as the petals. However, some offer contrasting colors between the fringe and the petals. The “Bell Song” variety has lovely coral flowers, yet the fringe bordering their beautiful shade of pink petals is white. Another delightful variety is the “Cummins”, which offers exquisite lavender-purple colored petals on exterior of the flower, but the interior facing side of the petal is white; along with a stunning white fringe. A true spring show stopper if you’ve ever seen one!
French tulips are a hybrid that were developed by John Theodore Scheepers, a Dutchman who came to the United States in 1897. In 1930, Scheepers introduced this hybrid. French tulips are actually a variety of the Single Late Tulips (SLT), originating from the South of France but are now primarily grown in Holland and California. French tulips are highly sought after for their incredible height, strong stems and large, shapely flowers. Their bloom heads can be the size of a coffee cup and are truly magnificent indeed!
Ah, the Parrot tulip. Certainly a unique look, and not for everyone. These blooms bring a whimsical, exciting feel to any arrangement. The Parrot tulip is the most exotic of all tulips with their distinctive fringed and scalloped plumage with a sensational feathered (hmmmm... perhaps the reason for their name?) appearance. All this texture gives the already large flowers even more volume. As a Parrot tulip’s blossoms mature, their petals can twist and turn giving each one their own personality. Parrot tulips are the flashiest and most exotic of all tulips. Every blossom is truly a work of art!
I hope I provided something you didn’t know before about this amazing flower and perhaps enticed you into a new found love affair with them! Remember to always take some time to stop and smell or just enjoy the flowers you see on a walk, bike ride, or drive. Even though this blazing summer heat is upon us, I’m always amazed at the beauty that Texas roads offer with their summer wildflowers in full bloom. Until next time!