The Tulips of Araluen

Episode: 6
Title: The Tulips of Araluen
Broadcast: 27 September
Presenter: Trevor

Considering colour is back in vogue and the hottest trend your probably admiring the spring flowering bulbs putting a on display across the cooler places in Australia at the moment. And of all the bulbs arguably the tulip is the most perfect with is cupped blooms and crisp colour palate but did you know the story of the tulip?

  • Most people look at the tulip thinking it's a Dutch bulb but the truth is the Dutch kidnapped it from Turkey where the original species grow wild still today in high country.
  • Species are found throughout Northern Africa and as far east as China and the ottoman empire seem to be the first to describe them as tulipa as translated in English.
  • It was of course the Dutch that made them famous though As history states the Dutch started collecting flora from far distant parts of the globe as early as the 14th century and Tulips where initially collected for their potential as a food source, the bulbs being starch rich but they had been cultivated in the Islamic world from the 9th century and for the flowers and fragrance.
  • Between 1634 and 1660 a tulip frenzy took off and the Netherlands became so fanatical that it became a form of currency and it was the Tulip that spawned the very first stock exchange in Antwerp Belgium with bonds being created for future crops of tulip bulbs, basically people were investing money 2 years ahead based on the breeders being able to produce new and more exotic blooms and these then fetching a greater price at market than the current prices, speculative investing that went well until the great tulip crash of 1661…a bad season saw a lot of bulbs cause rot in the ground and suddenly there was no stock, when people tried to sell – there was nothing to sell and the market crashed
  • Growing tulips today is far less costly and surprisingly they do exceptionally well in most parts of southern Australia because they love a wet winter and dry summer.
  • This display is located in WA at Araluen Botanical Garden in the Perth foothills 45 minutes form the city.
  • A rich well drained soil is key to best growth along with a clear blue sky in early spring free of severe frosts.
  • The display this year features over 120,000 bulbs in bloom and they are celebrating the significance of the Turkish and Dutch influences in developing this gorgeous bulbous flower for home gardens.
  • If you want to grow your own tulips at home now is not the time to plant them it's the time to enjoy them.
  • Buy your bulbs in February from a reputable dealer and pop them in the crisper at 4C for the month before planting them in mid March taking them out and planting them in April/May depending where you live and how cool the weather becomes.
  • If you’ve got Tulips and you’d like to see them continue flowering my advice is to leave them to finish flowering and as soon as they do feed them and encourage growth.
  • They will naturally die down around December and that's the time to lift the bulbs, pop them into an onion bag and leave until March before chilling them.
  • The truth is you might get 2 to three years of flower production from the original bulb but that will be all, so replacing them regularly is just as effective.
  • Bulbs are a brilliant spring flowering waterwise plant for Australian gardens because they grow when we have water available in the soil and die back when we don’t, in tune with out environmental extremes.