Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tulips Today

Today I was noticing that there is an abundance of tulips around here: deep purple (almost black) flowers down the street, red and yellow ones up the block, and a riotous display a short distance away. Tulips appear early in spring, sharing that distinction with crocuses and daffodils though there are later blooming varieties that come up in April and May. Most people associate tulips with Holland but the flowers originally came from Turkey where they were named “tulbend” or turban because they were thought to look like the traditional Turkish hats.

Tulips are welcome the world over, with more than enough varieties to satisfy any taste. The colors have been overlaid with meanings, mostly having to do with love and relationships: red for passionate love, yellow, once thought to signify hopeless love now represents cheerfulness, pink is for well wishes, white for forgiveness. And purple, of course, is for royalty. Even so, there are layers of meaning for each color and florists tend to be sensitive to them as tulips are popular holiday favorites.

I find tulips uplifting. They help announce the end of the cold and sometimes harsh winter, for one thing. There is nothing like their vivid splash of color to awaken the senses. They also remind me of the mystery of the hidden, their bulbs enfolding their essence to be appreciated upon flowering. And how fascinating to know that even when the earth is frosty there is life continuing. Tulips as metaphors? Why not? Inspiration is everywhere if we look for it.


  1. Ah, so purple is the color for I know why I love it so. The problem with the tulips is the same problem as with all the spring blooming plants. Their colors are so brilliant and their arrival is so welcoming, I find myself looking at them instead of the road I'm driving on. A wonderful but dangerous distraction.

  2. I love purple, too, not necessarily because of its royal connection, rather because of its intensity and depth. And I agree about the spring flowers being distractions. Sometimes (as with the tulips) I have to pull off to the side of the road just to drink in their beauty.