Tulips are the floral emblem of Holland, and one of the most recognisable winter flowers in the world. Tulips grow as one or two flowers from a bulb, which can be replanted each year if kept cool. Each flower has a bright green stem of around 30 to 60 centimetres, with a few tall fragile rubbery leaves. The flower itself is made of 6 colourful curled petals that open quickly in hot weather to reveal a beautiful contrasting centre. There are many colours of Tulip, from white to purple, and Tulips may also be striped or have frilly variegated petals, such as the Parrot Tulip.
Tulips are not native to Holland, as many believe, but came to Northern Europe from the Ottoman Empire in the East. Nowadays, beautiful and colourful Tulips are grown worldwide in winter fields or cooled glasshouses in order to fulfil massive demand. They are available throughout winter and, in cooler areas, much of autumn and spring as well.
Tulips look great on their own, or in fact with any other flower, and should be bunched loosely to prevent damage to the leaves. They should be cut cleanly, placed in fresh ice cold water and kept away from sunlight, in order to keep the stems straight and the flowers closed for as long as possible.