By Guest Gardener Isabella Haywood
Have you ever wondered how the sprawling fields of tulips in Holland produce the extravagant and varied bulbs we nestle into our garden soil each fall? I have recently come across this process; it is certainly a dramatic affair!
As even lines of flowers reach upwards in full bloom during the spring, a tractor-like apparatus mows them down, leaving the bulbs in the soil and shooting an arc of tulip tops into a central compartment on the tractor. (These flowers are often saved and used to construct magnificent sculptures for Holland’s annual flower parade.)
Once the flowers have been sheared from the stems, the plants are considered “topped”. The remaining leaves and stems soak in the summer sun and send all their nutrients south into the bulb, which sends out three or so offshoots. In July, the leaves wither and the bulbs are scooped up, placed in bags, and sent to flower shops, where they hold themselves tightly until they can take root and flourish.
Cultivating tulips takes dedication and a certain steady rhythm. Developing a new variety takes patience, vision, and about 15 to 20 years. One novel variety of tulip that has found its way from the fields of Holland into my garden bed is the Danceline, a showy yet delicate flower that moves at its own pace.
Beginning in late April and slowly fluttering open over the course of a week, this tulip takes its time. When it first emerges, the petals are white with a dash of hot pink on each tip. They then erupt into a flurry, resembling a peony more than a tulip, or perhaps the backside of a well-cared-for hen. The sheer volume of petals contrasts charmingly with the delicate markings on each petal. As spring unfolds and the petals continue to fluff out, the pink dashes disperse until the whole flower changes color to an even, soft pink.
With its full plumage, shifting color scheme, and exceptionally long flowering time, the Danceline tulip is sure to delight all those who plant it this fall.
Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 11, No. 6 2020