Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tulips in Auckland

I love tulips full stop. All my life I have just adored this magnificent flower which has bewitched nations. The Dutch had a Black Tulip bubble in the 16th century and I can see why. Growing tulips is addictive.

My grandfather Thorpe grew them in abundance in Taplow. Not surprising as his next door neighbour was Mr. Barr, the owner of Barr's tulips who came to visit our house on a regular basis. Pop had beds of tulips thanks to Mr. Barr who had made a fortune from selling these bulbs. I found out only a few years ago that at the time Mr. Barr was the fourth richest man in England which is possibly why Pop took him to the FA Cup Final and not me! I was told girls did not warrant a seat at this festival to male sport! I digress.

In England it is easy to grow tulips. Lots of tulips. Bung them in the ground in October wait for the winter and bingo late May there they are. A splendid show for about a month. But in Auckland ....No!

Tulips need a good ground frost to get going and Auckland is sub tropical with I hasten to add the accent on the sub, it can be chilly but no frost. All bulbs of this sort need a good frost. The more ice and snow the better.

The only thing to do is to fool the tulips and that means putting the bulbs in the fridge for at least five weeks. The fridge not the deep freeze. My fridge has only room for so many. I mean I have to have my veggies so I can manage just two dozen. No massed displays of tulips for me.

Once planted they turn up to flower about now. That's September for us and equates to sort of late February in UK terms but would be June in reality.

Then to prolong the flowering season more than a few days as once the tulips fully open they fade rapidly they have to be kept out of the sun so I have to move the two tubs of tulips to strategic spots throughout the day. This way if I am lucky I get ten days of beauty.

Is the effort worth it? I live alone and my friends are not into gardening and have to be pressed into looking so their beauty is only for me. Well yes it is. I love them. They are even more beautiful than the silk ones I have inside. I use silk flowers like peonies when I cannot actually grow the plant in the heat but I miss their company.

So enjoy my tulips. I love them. Worth the effort.

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