Tulip Surprise

I’m a sucker for those value packages of fall planting bulbs, especially when they are sold by colour, being of course – purple.  I bought two packages last fall.  With those packages you never know what you are going to get, they are just a mix.  A pleasant surprise this spring, beautiful two toned tulips in the front yard.

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Admirael van der Eijck from the 1637 catalog of P.Cos., sold for 1045 guilders on February 5, 1637

The introduction of the tulip to Europe in the late 1500’s created quite a stir and within a few decades the tulip became a coveted luxury item.  At one point the price of certain tulip bulb in a much sought after variety cost 10 times the yearly wage of a skilled labourer.   Developed mainly in the United Provinces (The Netherlands) it became a status symbol which resulted in Tulip Mania.

The Canadian Tulip Festival occurs every May in Ottawa, a display of millions of tulips blooming in brilliant colour.  It was initiated in response to the birth of a baby girl during World War II.  In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, in the Second World War.

The most noteworthy event during their time in Canada was the birth in 1943 of Princess Margriet to Princess Juliana at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. The maternity ward was declared to be officially a temporary part of international territory, so that she would be born in no country and would inherit only her Dutch citizenship from her mother. To commemorate the birth, the Canadian Parliament flew the Dutch flag over Peace Tower. This is the only time a foreign flag has flown over the Canadian Parliament Building.  In 1946, Juliana sent another 20,500 bulbs requesting that a display be created for the hospital, and promised to send 10,000 more bulbs each year.  While the Netherlands continues to send 20,000 bulbs to Canada each year (10,000 from the Royal Family and 10,000 from the Dutch Bulb Growers Association), by 1963 the festival featured more than 2 million, and today sees nearly 3 million tulips purchased from Dutch and Canadian distributors.

Tulips are the only flower that continues to grow in the vase after being cut. They can continue to grow up to another 3 inches. They also conform to the shape of the container, straight up if in a tall container, twisting to fit into a flat or irregular shaped vase.

The ancient Turks used to brew a love potion from tulips and many cultures consider tulips to be the symbol of perfect love.

In the early 1700s, A Turk by the name of Sultan Ahmed III was the first to begin importing bulbs from Holland. But it proved a fatal attraction. When Sultan Ahmed was brought to trial, his crimes included “having spent too much money on the traditional annual tulip festivals”. The sentence: He was beheaded.

In Japan, certain flour is made from tulips.

In times of famine the Dutch have eaten tulip bulbs when no other food was available.

Hans Gillisz. Bollongier, Flower Piece, Frans Hals Museum, 1644. The top flower was always the most expensive one and in this bouquet it is the tulip Semper Augustus.

William Morris 1875 design printed on cotton

Of course, a nod to my favourite arts and crafts artist, William Morris.

The tulip and the butterfly
Appear in gayer coats than I:
Let me be dressed fine as I will,
Flies, worms, and flowers exceed me still.
~Isaac Watts


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Lamott is an unstoppable storyteller, whether writing about church-going with a sullen adolescent or reconciling with her late mother. She rages against the Iraq war but takes comfort from her sage-like Presbyterian minister, who says faith is not about how we feel it is about how we live. … Rule 1 We are all family. Rule 2 You reap exactly what you sow, that is, you cannot grow tulips from zucchini seeds. Rule 3 Try to breathe every few minutes or so. Rule 4 It helps beyond words to plant bulbs in the dark of winter. Rule 5 It is immoral to hit first.
Anne Lamott

Garden Firsts

We have lived in this house for four cycles through spring now.  I love this house, and the beautiful flower garden has been an added blessing.  There has been a little apple tree in the back yard since we moved it, this is the first spring it has bloomed, and bloomed beautifully.

DSC_0113Three falls ago I planted alium bulbs.  I suspect the area is too dry for them, the leaves have turned brown before the buds have developed.  This is the first spring there has been an almost bloom.

DSC_0106One of my earliest memories of cultivated flowers at the farm is of the beautiful common irises my great-grandmother planted.  A member of the congregation graciously gave me some rhyzomes last spring.  I love their deep purple colour.DSC_0105

Finally, and this is not actually a first, but a surprise.  The first spring we were here the tulips that greeted the warmth were yellow and orange (not my favourite colour palette).  I dug them all up and gave them away to who ever wanted them.  Gradually I replaced them with purple and white.  This spring, three years later, this is what I get, volunteers, or maybe I should say escape artists.  Surprise!

DSC_0114Isaiah 61:11   For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.


Purple, Purple and really Purple

Last fall I planted over fifty tulip bulbs.  I was rather disappointed with how they displayed the spring before.  It must have been a good winter for them because even the bulbs from the previous year bloomed this.  My favourite are the Queen of the Night.

DSC_0075 DSC_0081 DSC_0086I spent most of the morning in the garden, planting potatoes, peas, onions and garlic.  We are not going over board this year.  I might add some carrots tomorrow.  That will be determined by the amount of rain we receive overnight.  We are currently under a severe rain warning.  Last time one was issued, all the low areas were flooded.  It was a laugh to see the flag on the ninth hole of the local Golf and Country club waving bravely from the middle of a lake.

I hope you are all enjoying your Victoria Day.

Garden Update

The second flowers to appear in the garden.  Tulips are one of my favourites, particularly white and mauve and purple.  Surprised?

A little purple faced pansy managed to sneak in there.  So adorable, I love their little faces.

One can never depend on the claims on packages of bulbs.  The light coloured blossoms were supposed to be Shirley tulips, but they are quite a bit more yellow than I hoped.  Still beautiful.

Finally, I am pleased by how well the succulents survived the winter of mild temperatures and very little snow.  There were enough -40 C days that put the perennials at risk.  Many of the others did not fare so well.  I think I will have to replace the Siberian Iris and all the Crane’s Bill.


She Got It!

I’ve had to wait to post these pictures of my recently completed quilt.  Mom finally picked it up at the Post Office this morning.  Now I can post pictures without the worry of spoiling the surprise. 

This project presented nothing but a series of challenges.  The first was finding a tulip pattern that I liked.  When I did it was in an older magazine.  Not surprisingly, the templates for the block was missing.  Having to make my own was a first, with mental gymnastics that relied on grade school mathematics.  See!  Fractions do have practical uses!!!!

In the process of quilting the pebbles my sewing machine seized.  My own negligence, it should have been serviced months earlier.  Taking it to the dealer, an hour away, I got a chip in the truck’s recently replaced windshield (par for the course).

Approximately 3/5ths of the way through the pebbling, I realized I would not have enough thread.  It is a beige/light brown variegated from YLI called Pyramids of Giza.  None of the quilt shops in the Peace River District had it in stock so I had to wait for some to be ordered in – another two week delay.


When the thread finally arrived it required a one hour trip to pick it up.  I rushed home, threaded the machine, turned it on, the light was burned out.  By this time hubby was getting irritated by all the trips east for supplies that he told me under no uncertain terms was I driving an hour there and another back for a $2.50 light bulb.  Another two-week delay until underlayment was needed for the basement floor and a trip to Home Depot was necessary.  It was a serendipitous journey, as I found the butterfly stencil to free motion stitch the border.  Later I found one with tulips on-line., if I would have only known…

The fabric backing was another fortunate discovery.  It was in the sale rack at one of my favourite quilt stores.  It is a Quest for the Cure design, a percentage of the proceeds going to cancer research I think.  I felt mom would appreciate that, since her younger sister died from pancreatic cancer a year earlier.

I am thrilled with this quilt.  It turned out gorgeous.  Now I can turn my attention to the three current WIPs.

Summer Delayed

This is our third May Long Weekend living in the Peace.

In 2010 it snowed.  The trees were much further along in leafing out and many of the poplar trees were permanently bent or snapped in half from the weight of the snow.

Last year nature lulled us into a false security of no more snow until fall with flurries in the beginning of June.

This year, true to form, it has snowed.  The flowers were coming along so well too. 

The bare spots to the left is a result of radiant heat from the house.  That may be the salvation of the delphinium.

The chives were just about ready to bloom. A number of delicious meals have been enhanced with their lovely garlicy flavour.

I knew I should have taken pictures of the white icelandic poppies when they boasted their showy heads yesterday.

Retrospectively, I suppose I shouldn’t have been so eager to pull up the yellow and orange offerings, it would have provided a more interesting picture.

I am a little worried about our flowering shrubs, hopefully it didn’t get cold enough to damage the buds.  I am especially concerned about our crab apple tree, there was indications for a wealth of flowers, increasing the possibility of actually seeing fruit this year.

There is not as much concern for the roses.

Tulips closed to surprise

Three, Two, One, GROW!

Last fall I never did get around to putting the gardens to bed.  Maybe it was just as well, we hardly had any snow all winter.  I’ve convinced myself that all that dried mess was added protection for the perennials.  Two weeks ago I couldn’t put it off any longer, protection or no, some green was beginning to push through.

Job 14:7   For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.



The downside of leaving the cleanup until spring was all the growth had dried brittle over the winter.  Pieces and leaves would break and crumble into bits too small to bother collecting.  Perfectly fine to some extent, they hide the dandelions.  What a difference a couple hours of dedicated effort can make.










Shades of gray turn to colour
Dark of night breaks to day

It’s a new day, it’s a new day
Shadows rise at the glory of the Son
It’s a new day, it’s a new day
The past has gone and life has just begun

Hillsong London — It’s A New Day

Look closely, there are the first sign of tulips, proof of spring.