Friday, 17 May 2013

Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'


We had a lovely delivery in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art this week - six bottles of beer, filled with water and each holding one cut Old English Florists’ Tulip. Naturally, these are no ordinary Tulips - they are very special varieties which had come all the way from Wakefields. Dating from 1836, the Wakefield andNorth of England Tulip Society is a long established floral society with a tradition of growing English Florists' Tulips and today it is the only society left specialising in Tulips. They have an Annual Show which is held in the Wakefield area each year. This is open to the public and I really want to go!
           
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
English Florists' Tulips had their peak of popularity in the early 19th Century, with many florist societies growing the Tulip and other florist's flowers such as Carnations, Anemones and the Auriculas. The English Florists' Tulip has to conform to certain strict standards, particularly in having a shape like half a hollow ball, and having a base colour cleanly white or yellow, on top of which the darker colour is overlaid. The attractive markings on some of the flowers arise when their bulbs are infected with Tulip Breaking Virus. The markings have been known about since the days of 'Tulipomania' in the 17th Century, but it wasn't until the 1930s when Tulip Breaking Virus was discovered to be the cause. The flowers do not seem to suffer from the infection (one of the oldest cultivars known is Habit de Noce (Wedding Coat), dating from the 1790s, and it is still grown by society members today). 

Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Tulipa 'Rory McEwen'
Two of the six bottles in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art each had a very special Tulip in – Tulipa ‘Rory McEwen’, named after the man himself! They were so uttlery beautiful. You can really feel their rarity - they are like diamonds in a botanical world. I just had to take a photograph, complete with the traditional beer bottles in the background, which Wakefields traditionally exhibit their Tulips at shows.

Web Cow Girl has lots of images from one of the shows if you are interested...

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