Colours and shapes
The ever-cheerful tulip comes in white, red, yellow, pink, purple, orange, green or with multi-coloured petals. The shapes of the tulip are also a feast for the eye. You can find them with a single or double row of petals, whilst there are also eye-catching fringed and parrot tulips with serrated petals, and there’s the playful lily-flowered tulip. Peony tulips look like peonies, and French tulips are exceptionally tall (unlike the average French mademoiselle) and have very large flowers
If you gave someone a tulip in the sixteenth century, you were giving them a fortune. At that time the flower was incredibly popular and a speculative trade in tulip bulbs developed. You could buy a whole canalside house in Amsterdam for the price of one tulip bulb in those days. A nice bunch of tulips now costs just a couple of pounds, but the symbolism has gained in value. If you give someone tulips, you’re also giving them a message. Hence red tulips mean passionate love, and with black tulips you’re saying: ‘I love you so much I will sacrifice everything for you.’ So don’t give those to just anybody.
Tulips can be found growing wild from north Africa and southern Europe across to north-west China. The greatest diversity can be found in three mountain ranges in central Asia: the Pamirs, the Tian Shan and the Hindu Kush. With cold winters, long springs with cold nights and a dry summer, the climate here is ideal for tulips. Tulips need a cold night and a cold winter in order to be able to grow, which is why they can’t be cultivated in a warm climate.