Tulip Festival: For our 10th Tulip Festival in 2021, over forty different varieties of tulips showcasing the fifteen main types were planted all over the town in flower beds and planters last November. Early varieties start flowering in March with mid and late varieties following right through to the end of May.
Most wild tulips originated in central Asia from where they were taken to Turkey and cultivated by the Ottomans. Tulips were introduced into Europe in the 16th century, brought by the traders who sold exotic items from Asia and Africa. The large colourful flowers became a luxury item which changed hands for huge sums of money. Many of these were bred in the Netherlands where one of the most colourful type of tulips is the Rembrandt variety. Brightly striped and feathered tulips were most in demand. Tulip bulbs changed hands for huge sums of money as demand exceeded supply, leading to ‘Tulip mania’ where fortunes were made and lost overnight. The market for tulips collapsed in 1637 possibly after an outbreak of plague prevented buyers and sellers from meeting for bulb auctions; prices crashed, and speculators were ruined.
Luckily, we can enjoy all the different varieties today for a much more modest price. Our 4,000 bulbs come from the Netherlands. When the flowers are finished, we will lift the bulbs and bag them up, to give away at our plant choose and donate event at the end of May. All the money raised goes to buy more tulip bulbs for next year’s festival. With luck many of the old bulbs can be found planted under trees or in gardens around the town.
Pictures from the top
Black Hero – double late peony flowered tulip
Tulip planter in front of the Abbey church last spring
Pinocchio – Greigii tulips in a boat at Bank Street
Willem van Oranje – double early tulip
Dreaming Maid and purple violas at the station
Examples of all fifteen types can be seen on our tulip leaflet
The NBIB volunteers didn’t anticipate another lockdown so soon into the new year but luckily, we had so many of us out working in November and December we had completed most of the tidying, weeding and clearing up leaves that we needed to do by the end of the year. This meant that the first few weeks of January could be taken as holiday and we could relax, put out food for the birds and browse through the seed catalogues to choose flowers and vegetables to plant for the summer. January is also a good time to appreciate house plants such as Schlumbergera gaertneri, better known as the Christmas cactus.