photo: birgit reynders
A thousand years ago Tulips grew wild in Persia. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were the first culture to cultivate and hybridize the tulip. Persian poets sang its praises, and their artists drew and painted it so often, that the tulip is considered the symbol of the Ottoman Empire.
According to legend, a Persian youth named Farhad, fell in love with a maiden named Shirin. One day, word reached him that she had been killed. Gripped by unbearable grief, he mounted his favorite horse and galloped over a cliff to his death. From each drop of blood that trickled onto the ground from his wounds a scarlet tulip sprang, a symbol of his perfect love. Thus, the red tulip became a symbol of passionate love in ancient Persia
It is said that in the 16th century the Sultan of Persia displayed his affection with tulips by presenting a crimson tulip to his beloved as a symbol of the burning flame of his love. The first red tulips were tinged black at the base of each petal to reveal the sultan's heart as charred with passion to black coal. Due to this overt suggestion of sexual attraction, the Victorians hardly used tulips as an expression of love. But is is undeniable: they are a universal flower of irresistible love.
Tulips have a vase life of about 10 days. They continue to grow after cut, bending toward the light. This makes using them in ikebana a bit of a challenge, but we welcome these blooms and their irrepressible spirit.