Whilst the tulip is synonymous with Holland, it appears that wild tulips were first cultivated in Persia in about the 10th century AD , having been brought to the country from Syria. Tulips in Persia were considered heaven on earth and were accorded an almost divine status.
The first tulips weren’t grown in Holland (Leiden to be precise) until the 16th Century, and they were so unusual and sought after that they were literally worth their weight in gold- and were used as currency. And so it has remained today.
The commercial flowers we know today are all hybrid cultivars, sold under license, and the licenses to grow zealously upheld. Like Lilies, tulip bulbs are sold directly to growers for single use. Growers are not permitted to breed from the bulbs as the IP (plant breeding rights) belongs to the breeder in Holland. A commercial cut flower grower may only grow a variety for one year and must renew bulbs every year. It takes specialist breeders between 10-15 years to grow a new variety- and there are some magnificent varieties now available such as the variegated, frilled and parrot tulips. Parrot tulips are said to be ‘characterized by petals that are curled and twisted’ and are beautiful blooms.
There is a tendency for Tulips, unbeknown to many customers who buy them when they are upright, to naturally droop, so they look good presented from on high.
Below: The gorgeous Angelique – a double pink parrot tulip grown by our Grower of the Month ‘Broersen Bulbs’