In our own backyards, among the first of the flowers to bloom are bulb plants like daffodils, lilies, and tulips. Has your child ever wondered why some plants pop up again in the spring every year, while others need to be bought at the store and planted again? There are two common terms we use to distinguish between plant growing cycles: annual and perennial. Perennial plants include many of the spring ephemerals in the forest as well as the bulb plants in our yards. Perennial plants live two or more growing seasons, so they go dormant over winter and begin growing again each spring. Annual plants on the other hand include marigolds, pansies, petunias, sunflowers, and many others. These plants put all of their energy into flower and seed production because they only survive for one growing season. They will need to be planted over and over again every year if you wish to have them in your garden.
Spring is in full swing, and flowers are finally popping up in our yards! Among the first to bloom are spring ephemerals, wildflowers that bloom early spring and last only through the early part of summer. These include flowers like Virginia bluebells, snow trillium, and Dutchmen’s breeches. To see these flowers, you need to take a little hike through a wooded area. They are able to survive in the conditions of low light on the forest floor.
- There are 150 species of tulips, with over 3,000 different varieties.
- The word tulip comes from a Persian word meaning turban. Tulip flowers are similar in appearance to turbans, and at one time it was fashionable to wear a tulip in your turban.
- Tulips are perennials (grow for multiple growing seasons). They are native to mountainous regions of Central Asia and Turkey and require a period of winter dormancy called vernalization in between growing seasons.
- If you ever want to plant tulip bulbs, the best time of year is in the fall, right before winter dormancy.
- The Netherlands is the country best known for its tulips. In 1593, Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius planted tulip bulbs at a botanical garden. He began experimenting with different varieties and before long tulips were blooming all over the country!
- Tulips became so popular in the 1600’s, that bulbs were used as a form of currency! Certain special bulbs sold for 10 times more than the annual income of a skilled worker!
- During the Dutch famine of WWII, tulip petals were eaten because of the food shortage.
- Tulips remain a popular flower in the Netherlands today. They produce around 3 million bulbs annually. The bulbs in your backyard likely originated there!
Garden of Tulips Craft
What You’ll Need:
- Washable paints
- White construction paper or canvas
- Forks (3-pronged works best)
What to Do:
1. Clear a work space and put on a paint shirt. You should be using washable paints, but an extra layer of protection is always a good idea.
2. On your white sheet of paper, using your paint brush, paint tulip stalks and leaves all along the length of the paper. Make sure to leave enough room for the tulip flowers on the top! Tulips typically have one long stalk with one large prominent leaf on either side of it.
3. With your pain in a tray, dip the flat part of the fork prongs in the paint. Make sure it is completely covered. Use the painted fork to make a flower imprint on the paper at the top of a tulip stalk. Repeat with other colors to finish off all the other stalks.
4. Let dry and you will have a beautiful garden to give to your mother to show how much you care!
5. Make sure to clean up so your mother does not have to!