While going through the thousands of photos I took this past weekend at the Missouri Botanical Garden, I came to the conclusion that I’m a certifiable tulip snob. The gardens had every type of tulip imaginable in bloom, including many of the new hybrids that have seriously pushed — and (in my mind) broken — the boundaries of what I consider a tulip. They had parrot tulips, double tulips, and tulips that look they’d been struck by a truckload of genetic maladies all at once.
But nearly all of the tulips that I chose to capture through my lens were those that looked generally like the same tulips my grandmother and mother knew and grew — single, cup-shaped flowers that stand proudly above their foliage.
Now I certainly enjoy the wider range of colors and variegation in the petal color that has appeared in recent years, but only when the hybridization doesn’t modify the general shape of the tulip significantly. Some of the new color blends and edging have elevated the the standard yellow and red tulips to new heights. I have especially enjoyed the introduction of tulips in the blue-purple range.
One place where I make a personal exception is with species tulips (like these Tulipa turkestanica) where there is a historical significance in the tulip and not simply some hybridizer attempting to market every mutation that appears.
Call me a tulip purist, but I don’t want tulips that look like peonies, orchids or roses. I just want something rather simple.
I want a tulip that looks like a tulip.