Friday, October 29, 2010

Parrot Tulips

It is hard to imagine that anyone could pick just one particular type of tulip to love and adore. All tulips have a sleek regal beauty that not even the prickly thorny rose can acquire. But if I were hard pressed to pick a favorite tulip, I would have to say the Parrot Tulip wins my heart hands down. The variety is named after the frilly wing-like petals that adorn the flower. Choosing from a variety of colors, the pink and green parrot tulip stands supreme in my book.

These are the tulips displayed in 17th century Northern Renaissance vanity paintings; large floral arrangements dripping with luscious exotic flowers, dripping wet with dew. You almost get the sense that you could pluck one out of the frame to wipe away the water drops. In the early 1600's there was a "tulip mania". People were wild about the elegant flower in Europe. They were so obsessed with the beauty and value of this bulb that it was traded as a commodity.

Tulip bulbs were originally from the area of Kazakhstan in Asia. They grew wild in the fields. At that time, the bulbs were eaten (although, I would NOT recommend it now). It was an ambassador of Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire who brought the tulips to Holland. From there the Dutch cultivated the vast array of varieties we enjoy today. Although the Parrot Tulip seems like it would be expensive to buy, there are many catalogs and nurseries who stock them for a decent price in the Fall.

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