Troublesome Tulips

Lovely as Tulips are at this time of year they can be a problem for the Flower Arranger. Once picked and placed in water they will continue to grow and move towards any source of light. Many designs require plant material to flow downwards, Tulips will oblige, but only for a while, and the unfortunate arranger may return to what had been a beautifully flowing arrangement to find it replaced by a ‘many armed’ creature with hands raised upwards.
When I first learned Flower Arranging, wiring or tying of plant material was very much frowned upon and we were encouraged to let the plant material ‘go it’s own way’, so Tulips tended to be avoided.
How much better today when they can be supported and wired to make a pleasing design. Though I confess I adore twenty Tulips bunched into a plain cylindrical container without any additional foliage.
I have used a glass cylinder here, overcoming the problem of the foam being visible by making a collar of moss to fit around the container.
I used some copper mesh to make a double strip and filled it with flat moss stitching up the open side with copper wire. This was held in place on the container with a thick elastic band (look out for the ones the Postman drops on his rounds. It saves them being mistaken for worms by hungry birds). I covered the elastic band with thick string.
All bulb flowers last longer in water but I devised this method to hold the stems and provide free flowing water as well.
I put about four inches (10cms) of wet foam in the bottom of the container and after arranging filled it with water to the top of the glass.
I arranged a few stems of Cornus (Dogwood) in the foam and close to the edge of the container; then added a few more in the centre, keeping them straight. Next I added some full length Tulips and some at a shorter height, finally filling in with other pieces of the Cornus. Where necessary I tied the Tulips to the stems of Cornus with red decorative florist wire. Binding the wire around where needed.
Remember to top up the water regularly. These pink Tulips lasted six days and stayed as straight as when I first arranged them. I used about fifteen.
Newspaper headlines today have stated that bulbs should not be displayed in Supermarkets next to vegetables in case people took them to be food. They are in fact very poisonous. I was reminded of a visit to the Oxford Botanic Gardens when the Curator talked about the exorbitant cost of Tulip bulbs when they were first introduced to Europe in the seventeenth Century.
One bulb purchased for the sum of £300 was left on a desk and one of the Gardeners at Oxford ate it for lunch with his bread and cheese! Really! Well the Curator did have a gleam in his eyes as he told his tale.
Gayle Shell