Tulips are one of our favorite flowers, and one of the first signs of spring here in the Champlain Valley. While we can appreciate them for their beauty, there are some fantastic facts about tulips that you might not know!
1. Tulips are actually native to central Asia near the Russian-Chinese border. Around the year 1000 AD, the Turkish sultans started cultivating them and using them in their palace grounds and gardens.
2. While tulips are mostly associated with Holland, they weren't actually introduced there until around the year 1500! At that time, a botanist named Carolus Clusius was given some tulip bulbs by a political ambassador, and while he grew beautiful fields and gardens of tulips, he refused to share or sell the flowers and bulbs. As a result, his tulips were repeatedly stolen from his fields - and that is how the modern tulip industry began!
3. At one point during the height of the "tulip mania" in the Netherlands, tulips cost more than 10 times a working man's average salary, making them the most expensive flower in the world at the time (early 1600s) and securing their place as a commodity only for the fabulously wealthy.
4. Did you know that tulip petals are edible? Some chefs slice them into thin ribbons and use them as substitutes for onions in seasonal early spring dishes!
5. There are over 3,500 different named varieties of tulips that are organized into 15 distinct groups. More than three BILLION tulips are exported from Holland every year!
6. Even in a vase, tulips will follow and grow towards the sun, so some people will move a vase of cut tulips around the house during the day so that they don't grow in awkward positions.
We're gearing up for fall planting right now over at the Champlain Peony Company, and that means offering our customers first pick at the incoming selection of tulip bulbs. Planting your tulips in the fall after the soil has cooled off from the summer heat gives the bulbs a chance to grow roots over the winter so that they can bloom beautifully first thing in the spring!
Take a peek at all the tulip bulbs we have to offer. Bulbs will ship in the fall when they arrive here in the store, or you can order online and pick up your order in person at our Essex, N.Y. garden store.
Do you have a favorite tale about the tulip? We'd love to hear it!