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Tulip Wedding Bouquets – Some Things to Avoid

Current wedding surveys consistently rate tulip wedding bouquets as one of the three most popular wedding flowers globally (the other two being roses and calla lilies). If ever there was a prize awarded for the best all-round wedding flower, tulips would definitely be a front runner.

Tulips are simple, beautiful, ornamental flowers that are not toxic in any way and come in a variety of wonderful colours (except for classic blue) in particular red, orange, white, yellow, pink, mauve and purple. Some are mildly scented although most are without any scent whatsoever.

Most of the commercial florals are imported from Holland or the Middle East, particularly in the spring. The size of the plant varies from very small, about 3 inches up to as high as 30 inches. This is a bulbous plant characterized by one flower per thick stem and large, green leaves.

Each effervescent flower has 6 sepals. These flowers do not have thorns and have reasonably good longevity compared to other cut flowers. Tulip wedding flowers can be used in all kinds of bouquets either as a pure bouquet, as a mix of two or more types or colors of tulips or as a mix with other wedding flowers or greenery, for example hyacinth, camellias, calla lilies, peonies, roses, sweet peas and ranunculus all make excellent partners with tulips. Almost without exception tulips look sensational when paired with calla lilies.

These flowers need to be carefully managed, preferably in a cool environment, with adequate water (this is a thirsty plant) and with a minimum of physical handling to prevent or delay wilting. The flower is very temperature sensitive and will very easily open in warm ambient conditions and conversely close in cold ambient conditions. Even just transporting tulips in a car on a hot day with the windows closed will sometimes be enough to trigger the individual flowers into completely opening by the time your journey is complete.

When planning tulip flower arrangements one has to take into account the fact that an oddity about these wedding flowers is that they continue to grow once cut and put in water, and remarkably will sometimes grow as much as an additional two inches, a fact which sometimes lends itself to delaying making up the bouquet until as late as possible. These flowers can be used in virtually all wedding flower arrangements, and these picturesque, almost plastic-looking flowers are particular visually appealing in bouquets and centrepieces.

A word of caution for a bride with a white wedding dress is to be careful with a tulip bridal bouquet in terms of the tulips pistils and stamens, (a similar concern when using lilies as wedding flowers), which can sometimes stain a wedding dress. Some florists as a precaution will gently remove the pistils and stamens from a tulip when the flower opens using tissue paper to avoid any risk of staining.

In terms of tulip wedding arrangements the following classic pitfalls need to be avoided at all costs:

  • The plant is characterized as having a long, thick stem unusually, although not exclusively, with only one bloom per stem. What is not always appreciated is that the stems are hollow and quite delicate. When physically handling the stems one has to be careful not to be overly robust, as the stems will easily kink or snap.
  • These are thirsty plants and need water to be sustained. Once you take receipt of your tulips, you need to immediately get the plants into water and preferably position them in a cool, shady area. Before making up your bouquet, ensure you hydrate your tulips overnight. To avoid premature wilting, do not expose tulips to direct sunlight or overly warm, ambient conditions
  • Once cut, tulips will continue to grow and can grow as much as a further two inches. This is an odd characteristic of the plant and you need to take this into consideration when constructing your bouquet. Two strategies to counteract this phenomenon are to either leave the composition of the bouquet as late as possible or alternatively make up the bouquet to accommodate this extrapolated growth
  • If a red light spells danger, then a daffodil spells death. Avoid at all costs designing a tulip wedding bouquet using a daffodil as the alternative flower. Daffodils can exude a sap under certain circumstances which is toxic to tulips and could potentially contaminate the tulips.

Above all enjoy your tulips, and have fun in making up your bouquets. Pink and white specimens in a wedding bouquet can be remarkably visually stunning and uniquely feminine. After all, a wedding is about enjoyment and celebration, and if ever a tulip symbolized an emotion, it unquestionably would be happiness. If you took one memory away from your wedding, I suspect you would choose happiness.

Some History of Tulip Markets and the Tulip in Amsterdam

When you think of Amsterdam or the Netherlands, you often think of clogs, canals and windmills, with tulips closely behind. Tulips are a Dutch stereotype, although, like most stereotypes, they are rooted in some historical truth. The tulip originates from Northern India, in the Hindu Kush region, although was introduced to Western Europe via the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century. They soon became intertwined with the image of the Netherlands, who were fighting for independence from Spain, and therefore looking for national symbols.

The real impact of tulips on the consciousness of the West came in the ‘tulip mania’ of the 1630s. This was one of the first examples of a global financial bubble, based on speculation and rapidly rising prices. The tulip mania began when members of the European nobility began to demand the exotic flower, which caused prices to rise. This began to increase dramatically as the expensive flowers became even more desired. At its peak, the cost of a single tulip bulb was ten times the annual earnings of a carpenter. After the collapse of the market in February 1637, the cost of a bulb returned to its earlier price, and many of the Dutch speculators had been ruined by the trade. This did much to alter the focus of the Dutch economy away from Harlem, and instead to Amsterdam, which became the preeminent Dutch city.

In modern times, the Dutch economy is still one based on agriculture. The Dutch are the third-largest exporter of agricultural products, behind France and the United States. The primary focus of their economy is plants and flowers, and tulips are central to this. Although the Netherlands has a modern, industrial economy, its reliance on tulips shows the importance of the flower to the Dutch and indicates why it has become a powerful symbol for their nation.

Any traveller to modern-day Amsterdam cannot help but see tulip sellers on every street corner. Indeed, anyone who gets the train from London to Amsterdam will see tulip sellers at every step of their journey from the station. The role that tulips play in the Dutch national consciousness is underpinned by economic reality. Tulips helped to Dutch economy to grow during their Golden Age, and continue to contribute a large section of Dutch exports. In Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, tulips are rightly regarded as the Dutch national flower. When you think of Amsterdam or the Netherlands, you often think of clogs, canals and windmills, with tulips closely behind. Tulips are a Dutch stereotype, although, like most stereotypes, they are rooted in some historical truth.

Some Tips for Visiting the Netherlands During Tulip Season

There’s nothing quite like a colourful sea of blooming tulips. Not many people can claim to have seen the phenomenon. If they have, it’s most likely to have been in the Netherlands, the world’s unofficial tulip capital. For a wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating spring weekend holiday, take a trip to tulip country, also home to picturesque cities, great beer, cheese and clog-shaped souvenirs.

Tulip-Related Activities

No visit to the Netherlands between late March and late May is complete without a trip to Keukenhof Gardens where the natural world really comes to life showcasing more spectacular colours than you’d come across anywhere else. The massive park is dedicated to tulips. Each year flowers are planted in various formations and colour hues to celebrate a set theme. In 2012, Poland – Heart of Europe, is the focus of the two-month-long tulip extravaganza. Expect to hear classical music on the repertoire from Chopin and alike as the organisers believe flowers and music are a match made in heaven.

Events at Keukenhof in 2012 will include Chopin Weekend on the 24th and 25th March, a Dutch costume festival on 30th March and 1st April and an Easter Hat Parade on 9th April as well as many others. No wonder CNN network’s named Keukenhof one of the year’s top destinations worldwide!

Buses to the attraction leave regularly from Schiphol Station and central Amsterdam.

Nearby you’ll also find vast tulip bulb farmers’ fields that can be explored on foot or by bike. The fields are fully operational and much wilder than Keukenhof’s groomed flower beds. Guided tours are available for those wishing to find out a bit more about how tulips became to be one of the Netherlands’ most renowned national symbols, how new varieties are developed and what it takes to grow a healthy batch of tulips.

Other Activities

A must for visitors to the Netherlands is a canal boat tour in Amsterdam, Leiden or other cities with developed canal systems. The tours are guided and provide great insights into how local lives and livelihoods have changed over the years with the development of the industry. Views from the boats are unrivalled.

Gourmet travellers will enjoy trips to some of the country’s finest cheese farms and markets. Some of the most popular tourist attractions are the Henri Willig cheese farms and Clara Maria Cheese Farm and Clog Factory. Both offer visitors the chance to sample traditional cheeses.

Beer brewery tours are another good way to spend time in the Netherlands. In central Amsterdam venture to Brouwerij t’Ij, or go south and pay a visit to Brouwerij De Molen in Bodegraven, South Holland.

Make the best of your time in the Netherlands by combining a trip to see the flowers and other rural attractions with a city break. The country’s small and boasts excellent transport system with frequent trains connecting all major cities from Amsterdam to Groningen, to Maastricht.

If you’re flying to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, it’s just a short train ride away from the capital’s central train station. To give you time to explore as many sights as possible without having to plan any inner-city transfers, book yourself into a hotel Amsterdam right next to the train station like the Double Tree by Hilton.

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