Spring has sprung and with it, all the bright flowers and promise of warmth, sunshine and new beginnings. This month’s prompt is Bloom, used to describe a flower or blossom, or the changes that occur when one opens up to the world around it. Spring is the time for blooms, whether they be on flowering trees, in borders around a garden, or full gardens of nothing but flowers as far as the eye can see.
But I’m talking about my absolute favorite blooms – the tulip.
A bit of history:
The name “tulip” is thought to be derived from a Persian word for turban, which it may have been thought to resemble. Tulips originally were found in a band stretching from Southern Europe to Central Asia – the temperate zones. They did not come to the attention of the West until the sixteenth century, when Western diplomats to the Ottoman court observed and reported on them. They were rapidly introduced into Europe and became a frenzied commodity during Tulip mania. Tulips were frequently depicted in Dutch Golden Age paintings, and have become associated with the Netherlands, the major producer for world markets, ever since. In the seventeenth century Netherlands, an infection of tulip bulbs by the tulip breaking virus created variegated patterns in the tulip flowers that were much admired and valued. While truly broken tulips do not exist anymore, the closest available specimens today are part of the group known as the Rembrandts – so named because Rembrandt painted some of the most admired breaks of his time.
Now, modern technology, greenhouses and dedicated cultivators have made it possible for tulips to be available to us year-round. But, I’m a bit of a traditionalist – my first bunch of tulips comes into the house sometime after Easter and through Mother’s Day – and I have their happy little faces for a short time every year. It marks the seasons for me, and with that, makes me smile.
The Victorians were renown for assigning ‘messages’ to their flowers: each flower had a ‘meaning’ attached to it, with several books being penned that listed the definitions and often contradicted one another. But tulips have consistently had a meaning (some too old to trace the origins) and you can use that to pick your perfect flowers, or simply choose what makes you smile. The meaning of tulips is generally perfect love. Red tulips are most strongly associated with true love, while purple symbolizes royalty. The meaning of yellow tulips has evolved somewhat, from once representing hopeless love to now being a common expression for cheerful thoughts and sunshine. White tulips are used to claim worthiness or to send a message of forgiveness. Variegated tulips, once among the most popular varieties due to their striking color patterns, represent beautiful eyes.
I’m just a fan of the classic, pink tulip – although I have various colors and variegated tulips in every bundle I bring into the house.
Do you have a favorite flower? Do you know its history or meanings?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: