25,000 tulips set to bloom in time for festival

See more than 25,000 tulips in flower at the annual Pashley Manor tulip festival

The gardens at Pashley Manor in East Sussex (above) will be a riot of colour as more than 25,000 tulips unfurl their petals in time for the garden’s annual festival (22 April to 4 May). Held in association with Bloms Bulbs, the show will feature 107 varieties of the much-loved plant, as well as a display of 2,000 cut tulips, and experts will be on hand to provide advice and to take your bulb orders for autumn delivery.

When we think of tulips (pictured, Tulipa ‘Dynasty’), we tend to automatically think of Holland and its extensive work in the breeding and growing of the bulb. However, the flower comes from the Middle East (the Turks reputedly cultivated tulips as early as AD1000) and, to a limited extent, China.

The word “tulip” derives from the New Latin word tulipa and the Turkish word for turban, and the similarly shaped silhouette of the flower decorates many of Turkey’s historic hand-embroidered fabrics, as well as distinctive tiles and ceramics.

The Dutch founded a vast international trade in the flower, breeding new and exciting cultivars in a rainbow of colours, with myriad patterns and petal formations. The First and Second World Wars and the ensuing economic crises of both forced many bulb growers out of business, with crops and fields destroyed by battles and, in 1944, a famine which led to desperate, starving Dutch farmers and their families to eat their prized bulbs as if they were common onions.

TULIPS AS CUT FLOWERS

Do as the Dutch do with their particularly prized tulips and show them off in an elaborate Delft pyramid vase, or tulipiere, which is designed so that each bloom can be clearly and individually showcased. To see one of the tallest tulipieres ever made (it comprises eight layers), visit Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace (until 11 October 2015).

However you decide to display your tulips, to get the most out of them, recut the stems, bind them in paper and plunge the flowers into a bucket of cold water overnight before arranging them.

Visit the Ideal Home garden shop

Love your garden? Take advantage of our special offers on plants at the Ideal Home garden shop. Our curated collection of beautiful flowers and shrubs is guaranteed to add colour and charm to your outdoor space.

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