extraordinary journey of tulips to our gardens
By Thea Steinmetz
Published March 23, 2005
can one go to escape all the talk about the weather? Even on a quick
trip to the bank one is reminded of how winter keeps on going. One
upbeat, happy teller reminds us that the smell of spring is already
in the air. And, so it is. Caught right there between the rays of
welcome sunshine and the short gusts of promising winds.
Easter is upon
us and many a holiday table will have the smiling breath of spring
with tulips as the centerpiece. Of course, these are florist tulips
and we have several weeks to go before we can cut our own garden
Since we can
not even see them under the mountain of snow piled on top of them,
let's consider where they have come from. The original species tulips
by now have had such a plethora of cultivated varieties that we
do not take into account that somewhere in the world they had to
be native to the region.
make a statement in any garden and what indeed would spring be without
them. By today's standards, the bulbs are relatively inexpensive
and we tend to forget that once upon a time they were worth a king's
ransom. Tulips have a long and fabled history. Once upon a time,
fortunes have been made and lost on the speculative market. No other
flower can lay claim to such a checkered history.
believe that the first tulips sprung from the scrubby slopes where
China and Tibet meet Russia and Afghanistan, one of the less hospitable
environments on earth. It was a long journey, with many stops along
the way, before the flamboyant flower arrived in Holland. By the
year 1050 the tulip was already venerated in the gardens of old
Persia. The first shipment arrived in the port at Antwerp in 1562
with a shipment of cloth ordered from Istanbul. The merchant must
have been puzzled but assumed the bulbs to be some new Turkish onion
and planted them with his vegetables.
By 1633 rare
tulips became a desired and speculative commodity. That was the
beginning of Tulipomania. Lurid tales of fortunes to be made were
the talk of Holland. The profits from the sale of rare bulbs were
fabulous. People gambled their savings and mortgaged their homes
to invest in tulip bulbs. By 1638 the boom was a bust. As the availability
of bulbs increased, the insanity of the speculators could no longer
promote the lunacy of market.
A grab bag
full of information useful this spring: When making plans to re-do
flower and vegetable beds, remember the Westlake humus and woodchips
program. Leaf humus is an excellent soil conditioner and should
not be used in place of soil, but rather be added to improve the
quality of garden soil.
As of now,
the piles might still be frozen but it is not too early to estimate
how many yards you wish to purchase from the City of Westlake. In
addition to the cost of the leaf humus, there is a delivery fee
and it is not too early to estimate how much to order from the Westlake
service department. The product must be paid for at city hall. Small
quantities, be it a bushel or a 30 gallon container may be picked
up, after pre-payment, at the service department.
Road flower boxes will be overseen by Marge Emblom this year. Marlene
Parker, president of Westlake Garden Club, due to family health
problems, has passed the supervision on to another Westlake garden
Club member. Also, Gale's of Westlake has offered to inspire all
box holders with a seminar. As Emeril would say, 'kick it up a notch'
and make the boxes more exiting. All parties that signed on to plant
and maintain a box are welcome to participate in this program.
The new list
for America in Bloom was released and it showed Westlake and Hudson,
Ohio competing in the same size population category. Olmsted Falls
and Oberlin are entered in the 5,000 to 10,000 population category.
Oberlin College also entered in the College in Bloom competition.
Our West Shore
communities have their spring clean up days in April. Check with
your own city service department for the date. It is the perfect
time to gather your yard waste, leaves and just plain stuff that
has accumulated over the winter and be put on the curve for a special
city pick-up date.
At a recent
visit to Cahoon Nursery, when I needed my springtime plant talk
fix with Rich Bartsche, I spotted a brochure behind the counter
that just might be the answer to many first time gardeners. Most
likely the majority of our readers are do-it-yourself gardeners.
For first time and seasoned gardeners alike, the DIY program offered
by this nursery might be the answer to turn your landscaping fantasy
into reality. Robert Kaiser III, the Cahoon Nursery designer, for
a fee of $50 will assist you with a plan, the outlining of new beds,
the placement of trees, shrubs and ornamental plants. You will have
a drawing of your site and understand how to proceed with a workable
By doing it
yourself it may well become an ongoing project, one that will develop
even better in years to come. For first time home owners and the
serious would be gardener, this program is an affordable and well
envisioned first step toward a beautiful landscape and the garden
of your dreams.