Spring in Motion; Potted Tulips I Have Known

“Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.” – Maya Angelou.

As spring approaches, tulip buds emerge from the folds of nurturing leaves. They slowly rise above the verdant embrace, standing ever taller, like a dancer allowing a green shawl to drop away from her shoulders.


tulips yellow with bud


Filled with the turgid vigor of youth, the tumescent buds grow fuller and begin to flush with  color. As they develop into their mature form, the green recedes and the blossoms take on their pre-destined hue.


tulip mix with blush


Colors can range from purest whites to delicate  pastel blushes, sometimes with a complimentary edge as though the petal tips were lips, gently outlined with a fine brush.  The drama queens of the group exhibit bright reds or deep purples or maybe combining multiple tones for extra attention.


tulip open purple with pollen


Often there are pale or dark markings at the base of the anthers, which highlight the release of the powdery pollen. Some varieties have licks of completely contrasting colors, rising like flames from the top of the stem.


tulip potted stripes


The petals may hold position, voluptuous and sculptural in their pose, as the blossoms mature. But in many forms, or circumstances, they arch and bend and curl. The petals creating a sense of motion, in a silken sensuous swirl, like a flamenco dancers skirt caught in a moment of time.


tulip pattern flame closeup


Individually beautiful, but even more effective performing as a group, they can seemingly be in colorful unison, like a choreographed ballet folklorico. Or the stems and petals can twist and gesture, developing individualized performances as they age.


tulips white with metal pot rock wall


–For those of us on the West Coast, tulips are blooming early, like everything else, due to our winter-less winter. For our friends in many other areas, they may seem like a dream….but they will arrive eventually, once the earth, in the rest of the country, emerges from the pounding winter. —


tulip closeup open white


A Few Practicalities To Grow Your Own Potted Tulip Performance;

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way. Bulbs need to be planted in fall or early winter, so they can receive the cold they need to signal the bulbs to begin their cycle. In the West, an extra six weeks in the fridge, before potting them, can make a big difference in coastal climates. – A good way to do this is in a separate beverage refrigerator, away from ethylene-producing fruit and vegetables.


tulip orange pair with mix


They Look Demanding But Aren’t. Tulips respond to good soil and a nice bulb fertilizer, but they can still perform well the first year with the energy stored in the bulb from the suppliers production methods, without any special fuss.

Water-wise? Tulips need adequate  moisture while they are in their growing cycle, but the original species come from parts of the world that are often dry in summer, so gardeners in the west should take advantage of their after-bloom dormancy. This makes them suitable for water-wise gardens, where they can bloom on normal winter rains alone.


tulip bud orange parrot


Watch Out For Predators. Tulips are beloved by deer and gophers and will quickly disappear, often just as the fat buds are ready. While deer sprays and gopher baskets make a difference, the only sure thing is to grow them in a pot and enjoy them in a protected place when they are ready to bloom.


tulips straight orange with mix


 – -If we can stop for a moment at the intersection of paying-attention and paying no-mind, we just might hear the strains of the verdant, rushing music that drives the rhythm of spring.–


tulips vertical chalkboard dance



 More inspiration; check out the varied settings of native tulips at www.tulipsinthewild.com. The curated collection of images, from the travels of a group of Dutch tulip hunters, associated with the bulb distributor Colorblends and the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, are fascinating.  A  trip to some of these places definitely goes on my wish-list.

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Categories: Garden Inspiration, Things to Grow


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2 Comments on “Spring in Motion; Potted Tulips I Have Known”

  1. March 11, 2015 at 3:08 am #

    Your photos are beautiful. Makes me want to grow some tulips myself. I’ve always thought that they were hard to grow because my best friends Dad used to put the bulbs in the fridge before planting them or something, but I will definitely try them out now! 🙂

  2. March 16, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    Breathless! Thank you for sharing these beauties!

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