Floral FUNdamentals – Welcome, Spring!

After the holidays, my thoughts always turn towards spring. Clearing away the decorations of Christmas and making a clean sweep in my home is so refreshing that I add some fresh cut flowers to my table to finish off my January cleaning ritual. One of my favorite fresh cut spring flowers is the tulip.

“But wait,” you say, “Is it spring yet?”

For the tulip it is. The tulip makes its appearance right after poinsettias are on their way out. Available in florist shops and mass market outlets everywhere today, they were once only available in the short season of spring. Until fairly recently, we could only get cut tulips locally from March until late May. This made for wedding angst, as they were once as popular for wedding bouquets as the posie callas and roses are today.

All that changed when a wholesale grower, Sun Valley Floral Farms of Arcata, CA, began growing tulips, irises and other bulb crops in greenhouses. Now they are locally available year round and are shipped internationally, as well. You can have tulips for your winter table or festivities, as well as for that spring wedding.

Tulips have an incredible history and were once worth a great fortune in Holland. Prized tulip bulbs were auctioned, bartered or stolen for great wealth. The Dutch Masters included the famous yellow and red striped tulip in many of their paintings. If you look closely you will find tulips in many of the Masters great artworks.

If your canvas is your home, you can add a vase full of tulips in your favorite color and paint a cheerful scene, or mix them up for a lively combination. Tulips come in reds, pinks, yellows, lavenders, purples, whites, bi-colors and multi-colors. Try adding a little bear grass and putting them in a clear glass vase, letting the beauty of their stems show through. You will enjoy watching them grow as their stems twist and bend, pulled by both gravity and sunlight. The spontaneous tulip never stays exactly where you place it!

To care for fresh tulips, you should always re-cut their stems before placing them in a vase full of clean water, floral food and maybe some river rocks or marbles. Change the water every other day and keep an eye on the water level, as tulips are very thirsty flowers. Although bulb flowers have a shorter vase life than most cut flowers, these steps will extend their vase life to the fullest.

Shorten that return trip to the vernal equinox by putting some fresh tulips in your home or office today, and start dreaming of spring! If you would like to learn more about fresh floral design, come sign up for classes offered at the City of Redding Parks and Recreation, beginning January 18th. You can sign up online.

May there always be beauty and flowers in your life.

Darlene Storms-Montgomery MFC CCF, is a native of Redding and has worked in the world of flowers professionally for more than 30 years. She has owned her own flower shop (Victorian Rose Florist) and can be found these days managing the Safeway Floral Department on Pine Street. Her greatest passion is teaching floral design. Her classes can be taken at Shasta College or the City of Redding.

Recently, Darlene became a certified florist though the California State Floral Association, and is a Master Floral Instructor at Shasta College. She and her husband James play music with the folk-rock group, the Prima Donna Bongo Band … but that’s another story altogether.

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