Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Broken Tulip

...Spring bulbs, No snow, and making a break for it.

The Broken Tulip

Front Spiral Garden in late April after a couple weeks of unusually warm weather

Many of you garden geeks out there will have read Tulipmania so what I am about to explain is like so 'old news' to you but let me bore you to enlighten others. A long time ago, in the era of Rembrant (1700th century), the artsy and otherwise susceptible communities in Europe were seized with Tulip fever. Bulbs began selling for incredible debt-defying prices. Some of the most prized bulbs sprouted striped flowers. The striping pattern was unpredictable and many, many years later it was discovered that this novel pattern was created by a mosaic virus specifically the Tulip Breaking Virus (TBV - actually according to one source five viruses can cause it).

Species Tulip opened yesterday!

I had filed this, wrongly, under my mind's history files figuring that they only sell clean tulip stock now. I was right that so called 'Rembrandt' tulips on the market nowadays are not affected by the virus(es).

Tulips planted by previous owners many years ago replanted and then covered with gravel which they dutifully grew threw. When I originally dug up this clump of tulips, I swear there were a hundred bulbs in a square foot so who knows how long they had been there. A couple years of replanting the tiny bulbs, they were flowering size, I guess. I think these are the classic red Darwin tulips but I'm not sure.

However, stock still exists of true 'broken tulips'. Old House Gardens Heirloom Flower Bulbs is willing to infest your spring planting design with these ailing beauties. However, they do suggest you plant them away from unbroken tulips and other members of the lily family for obvious reasons. However, maybe you are curious about what would happen if you committed biological warfare on your unsuspecting tulip stock. I'm not suggesting you do... just saying.

A squirrel planted this one. I wonder from which neighbour it came? Random yellow and red tulip near the varigated foliage of red robin greigi tulip.

Squirrel planted tulip. I wonder which neighbour it came from. It's sitting besides ome Greigi tulips with their varigated foliage.

Links to more on broken tulips:

Standard but entertaining article about broken tulips
Intereting article about the connection of broken tulips and 'stone fruit trees'
English broken tulips
An article expanding on the history of the borken tulip
There is a lot written on the economics of the tulip crash, here is but one example

Other Signs of Spring

No snow!

Youngest sniffing the Narcissus.

Spring in fast forward - we went from crocus to daffs to tulips in what seemed like time lapse photography after several weeks of unusually warm weather.

Giant Crocus planted with violas.


Grecian wind flowers. I love these little blooms.

Making a break for it:

I'll be signing off for awhile as we are heading on some really long trips. In the meantime, I wet my plants, has offered to come around occasionally and pull a lamb's ear about to set seed from my garden, so please feel free to read her adventures in Ottawa. I'll also have a friend from around the block who wants to play in my veggie patch so perhaps he'll make some updates. We'll see.

See you in August!

One more gratuitous flower shot


Curtis said...

I first heard of these striped tulips about 12 years ago but never saw any as pretty as yours.

Michelle said...

This tulip post was absolutely fascinating. I learned more than in several college lectures. Even in the important classes.

I so . . . tempted.


Nickname unavailable said...

Hi I love your blog! Do you have an RSS feed that I can subscribe too? :)

Ottawa Gardener said...

For anon who asked if you leave your tulips in the ground or dig them up. You should leave them in the ground until the leaves brown and die back then you can leave them in the ground (and I do), especially if they are the type that perennialize nicely, or you can store them (can't remember the details but I'm sure they are easy to find) until planting in the fall. I replant mine right away after their leaves die back if I want them in a new spot. If you have hybrid tulips which flower poorly in subsequent years, you might want to replace them. If you have a patch that isn't flowering well, you could try digging them up and replanting them with more space to see if this improves flowering. I had one patch of tulips that had nearly 100 bulbs in one square foot!! I replanted those baby bulbs and got a huge stand of tulips a couple years later. THese were darwin tulips however that perennialize well. Hope that helps!