For the Love of Tulips, or Frankly, My Tulip, I Don't Give a Damn
For the longest time I had slighted theTulip. While I loved how ubiquitous they are—a flower I could grow with ease in the garden, happen upon at the aisle of any grocery store, pluck from the flower cart under the overpass, or spot at my neighborhood bodega—I just couldn't love theTulipthe way it deserved to be loved. That is, until a few years ago, when my love surprised me with a bouquet of lush, vintage-tonedTulips, ghostly Banksia and long-leafed Eucalyptus. I had to re-examine my views. What I once thought of as "ordinary" stared back at me in all of its graceful glory, gripping my attention. There's beauty in simplicity, in whimsical, cupped blooms embellished with long, winding green leaves that dance along a stem. There's also beauty in knowledge, when, after said revelation, you find that this flower is not as blasé as you (wrongly) preconceived, but instead contains a universe of unique, classic and exotic varieties beyond the imagination.
This season, I am growing two types of Tulips: Parrot and Double Late. I handed my bulbs over to the soil in Autumn, inquiring upon the stars for Spring blooms. As Winter passed, and the growing season awakened, what arrived has had me giddy the past few weeks. I love Tulips. I love them, and want everyone to know how much. Perhaps it's the type of feeling a protagonist has in an old film when they finally realize a beloved has been there all along, belting out declarations of love into the open air. I'm not saying Tulips are my soulmate from the silver screen, but I do want to belt out my love for them before the credits roll. So here I am: my love for Tulips written on my sleeve, emblazoned on my botanical coat of arms.
The firstTulipI fell for was the one that started it all in that bouquet: La Belle Epoque, a dreamy bloom that conjures images of dusk, of mystery, of magic in my mind. Her waves of petals almost look hand-painted: a golden-caramel base coat is accented by brushstrokes of mauve and rose, touches of buttercup, marks of green on the outer petals and a spotlight-yellow center that pops once the petals fan out. Every flower is unique in its detail and nuance, yet still at home among its own undeniable variety.
Next came Copper Image and Orange Princess, whose tightly wound buds boast a tangle of petals and stamen, embossed with show-stopping hues and the most perfect ballerina-skirt shape upon opening. Copper Image weaves a rainbow of peach, copper, rose, salmon and apricot, while Orange Princess carries the faithful citrus hue of its name, delicately fading into a cantaloupe or creamsicle. And then there is Apricot Parrot, the epitome of whimsy with large petals that look more like canvas and paint than a flower: pale, cream-colored outer petals with splashes of pink and touches of green that shyly hide vivid tinges of salmon, creamsicle and amber. Perhaps my favorite part of thisTulipis watching the petals unfurl from their traditional bell shape to fireworks exploding in the warm air of the afternoon.
Gardening is an act of trust: of loving the earth, caring for the land, tending to the soil, and having these acts enrich your world, your being, your soul. Every time I sow seeds, give bulbs and tubers to the land, or lay bare roots down, I'm in awe of what stirs up from the ground. TheseTulipswere no different, and watching as they cast my garden of green with such poetic light has brightened a time that had felt enveloped in grey.