Tulips: Fairytale Nurseries & Turkish Hats

Purple TulipsWe are coming to the end of the tulip season. Late blooming tulips seem to be the only thing that saves the garden, which is stuck between spring and summer flowers, from being nothing but a sea of lush greens.

Previously, I was not a big fan of tulips but, as I get older and I pay more attention to what my garden looks like as a whole rather than the parts and pieces I fall in love with in the nursery and shove into open spots when I get home, I have found they serve an important purpose in the garden. Tulips were just so… well… every garden. Everyone grows them and they are a pain since they tend to die off after a few years. But right now, they are all that is giving color to my garden until the early summer riot starts.

Legend has it that tulips are the cradles of fairy babies. At night, fairy grandmothers steal into gardens that are filled with tulips and rock their little grandbabes to sleep. And I can believe this because if you have ever looked into a tulip, the pollen does look suspiciously like baby poop.

Supposedly, if you never pick your tulips, the fairies will bless you with a beautiful garden. I am personally screwed in this area. While I never pick my tulips, the deer do seem to think that they are a tasty snack. Only about 50% of the tulip blossoms in my yard make it past two days of being open. I just hope that the fairies have the good sense to keep their babies out of my tulips. I would hate for my tulips to be contributing to any fairy baby deaths. Though if they are, this gives me just one more reason to get my deer hunting license this fall.

The name tulip is actually a bastardization of the word “Turban”. Tulips originate from Asia and made their way to Europe through trading routes in Turkey. While most people associate tulips with Holland and the Dutch, the fact is that they were VERY late in coming into the tulip obsession game. Turkish nobility valued tulip bulbs over the lives of the Turkish people. One could be exiled, even put to death for taking a tulip bulb out of the capital.

Even with these strict laws, tulips eventually made it to Holland. Because the flower looks much like that headgear worn by Turkish men, European people started to call these very expensive flowers “turbans”. Eventually, through telephone game semantics, this became “tulipans” which was then shortened to “tulip”.

My, my, my… how far the mighty tulip has fallen. Where once they were treasured above human life and could make or break a vast fortune, they are now sold at your local big box store for $9.95 for a dozen.

I suppose it doesn’t matter if they are cradles for fairytale creatures or worth their weight in gold, I just need to plant more so that next year, I have a bit more color in my garden at this time of year.

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