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    Language of Flowers – Tulips

    A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower.   Marianne Williamson



    Tulips are the symbol of paradise on earth. A simple and graceful design though modern tulips can be quite frilly or have massive blooms. Originally found in the Persia empire near Pamir and Tan Shan mountains (Afghanistan and Kazakhstan) and Turkey. The word tulips are from the Persian word for turban, dulband.  It refers to their resemblance to turbans as they bloom. Men wore the fresh blooms in their turbans denoting prosperity or as a charm to fight evil.

    The Ottomans Turks were enamored with tulips, cultivating them since the 13th century. Tulips were celebrated in religious and secular poems and art pieces as a reminder of heaven and eternal life. Suleiman the Magnificent through his friendship with the Holy Roman ambassador Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq help the tulip travel to Europe in the 16th Century. The ambassador was visiting Suleiman to aid in the peace process with Austria. Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils captivated him, and he carried tulips to Augsburg where in 1559, the first tulip bloomed. As with other cultures, the tulip captivated statesmen and scholars.

    It was this exchange with the ambassador that found the tulip passing into the Dutch culture where they its cultivation to a new level.  In the 17th century the economy became mad with tulips creating its currency on their growth and breeding. Single bulbs would control the fortune of the merchants. They became the symbol of the wealthy and were seen as pots of gold. As values increase land was traded, fortunes lost, and the economy of Holland faltered. Two interesting reads about this time of Dutch history sometimes refers to as Tulip Mania are The Tulip by Anna Pavord  and, Tulipmania, Money, Honor and Knowledge by Anne Goldgar.

    The Dutch economy recovered, and they are now the number one growers of tulips. The ups and downs of Tulipmania led to another meaning that life can be brief.  They are the national flower of the Netherlands. Tulip season begins when the City of Amsterdam celebrates National Tulip Day in January.

    The colors and styles of tulips are as vast as their meanings. They are a sweet blossom connected to happiness and peace.  A classic flower of love. Being one of the first flowers to bloom they can mean rebirth and have come to mean the heralds of spring. Victorians would use them to send messages of charity and supporting the less fortunate. They are the third’s most known flower after the rose and chrysanthemum.

    The blooms are cup shape surrounded by showy petals. Centers can be dark or light, providing a contrast to the petals meaning a broken or light-heart. Larger petals symbolize fame and showiness. The mosaic virus when found in tulips make the petals brighter and more interesting.

    In a bouquet, tulips can be used to express to the receiver that they are elegance and graceful. They can mean forgotten or neglected love. Indulgence. Daintiness. Tulips are symbolic of hope and faith, ideas, and the quest for perfection. Another sign of spring indicating a fresh start, new beginnings, or eternal love. Bouquet of bright red tulips speaks to passion and perfect love. Use tulips to celebrate the 11th wedding anniversary  expressing devotion and love. Variegated tulips in a bunch mean I think your eyes are beautiful.

    If you are wanting to send specific message use the below as a guideline.

    Crème tells your partner that love is eternal and expresses commitment.

    Orange is a striking color signifying happiness but can mean energy, warmth, enthusiasm, and desire. This color likes to say get on with it.

    Pink symbolize happiness and confidence. It is a color of less intensity that speaks of affection and love. This color contains many meanings; pride and love, contentment, inner happiness, or friendship. A great choice for friends and family.



    Purple represents royalty and a regal nature.  Abundance and prosperity. Loyalty to others or material wealth.

    Red is the symbol for perfect love and sign of everlasting love. Or undying passionate love, whether the passion is spurned or returned. Tales from Persian and Turkish legends tell us of the love between Farhad and Shirin. In one story, Farhad was a prince who fell in love with a beautiful girl named Shirin. She is murdered and, in his despair, rides his horse off a cliff. A red tulip grew where his blood touched the ground. In another Shirin is the royal and Farhad is the commoner. She rejects him and he goes to the hills to play music. She hears the music and falls in love with him. Her father creates a challenge for him to build a canal. As he is finishing the canal, her father tells Shirin that Farhad has died. She goes to be with him and together their blood becomes red tulips. 

    Red tulips with velvety black centers represent a lover’s heart, darkened by the heat of passion. In a myth from medieval times a woman was proposed to by three knights, each one declaring their love. She could not decide whom to choose. Praying to the Goddess of Flowers she transforms into a red tulip.

    Yellow means eternal love, a cheery disposition, or cheerful thoughts. A flower with a sweet charm to express simple joy. The color of unrequited or spurned love. Sending a yellow tulip to someone means you love them, but you know they don’t return your feelings.



    White conveying forgiveness, spiritual love, or pure intention.   





    There are over 3000 different varieties of tulips. They are in the Genus Tulip, Family Liliaceae along with lilies and onions. The bulbs are starchy and caloric. These qualities helped in times of starvation and food shortages. It was not unusual for Roman soldiers to eat the bulbs. The tulip crash in the Netherland led once again to it as a food source. World War II saw the bulbs as part of the food stream as the Dutch went through yet another famine. Tulip petals can be used in several dishes.

    Carrying tulip petals in your pocket brings good luck. Pixies live in the tulip beds in the Netherlands.

    Tulips vibrate to the number six, an expression of charms and lovability. Six represents energy of responsibility, gratitude, and conscientious action. It blends and harmonizes its surroundings. A flower with a big heart vibrating at a level where is part of the picture, not center stage.

    Mosaic or broken flowers are a result from aphids or a virus.  Once they appear and the pattern can be repeated, they are cultivated. I grow such one. An heirloom one called Insulinde.

    Old House Garden describes this broken tulip as sunrise in slow motion, opening with baby-smooth, pale yellow petals feathered with rose, and then day by day transforms itself into a big, ruffled flower of creamy white flamed with purple.


    Grow tulips in your sacred space. They bring peace to the home. When you can, wear a boutonniere or give a tussie-mussie for prosperity and protection. The lipsticks of the garden, tulips bring the finishing touch to the spring bloomers as summer approaches.



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    Sacred Spaces

    “You touch the earth, you will never cry again”   Arlene Tognetti

    I walk outside my patio door and the wonderful scent of my sweet peas fills the air. This smallest event makes me stop and smile.  I then take a seat and wait excitedly for the next whiff to move towards me.  This small movement is a sacred one.  Where you forget totally what you were doing and truly enjoy the moment.

    Sacred spaces are the places where it makes you take a break, where you feel calm, free or dare I say at peace.  It can be a simple arrangement you brought.  A single container with your favorite plant or several containers to large spaces.  It is a place for you, the place you consider sacred.  It consists of some aspect of nature and you.

    A place that is sacred can do many things.  Refresh your spirit after a long day or unexpected event, create awe and wonder as you watch the dragonflies dart in and out, provide sanctuary when you feel distressed in any form.  Seek out that touch of the nature spirit.  Take the important five minutes to connect with a quiet place.  Carry a picture of your favorite plant or space–put it on your phone.

    You may have heard, nature is hot again, that after several years of being inside, scientific studies prove we need nature.  It resets an internal need forgotten.  Over the last several years the healthcare industry has proven out that walking in nature, gardening, and even the simple act of reflecting has proven to heal, calm and change an individual’s life.

    Communing with nature is nothing new, we continually hear the loss of it.  True, large defoliation of land–due to man, fires, insects or, the attack of foreign bugs and non-native plants and the traditional gota build syndrome.  All have their impact.  Creating your own or supporting sacred spot become critical.

    I help my clients to create quiet spaces. Helping to start their day or end their day or in the evening to watch the stars go by.  Create a place that becomes special where you can catch your breath whether for an hour or a couple of days.

    I have been a lifelong steward. Mankind is but one piece of the earth and yet carries the heaviest load.  Quiet Garden is one of my favorite organizations.  The “Quiet Garden Movement nurtures low cost, accessible, outdoor space for prayer, contemplation, rest and inspiration in a variety of settings.  These are places that speak to your inner spirit, helping to heal and look at your place in the world somewhat differently.  Leave your cell phone at the gate.  It is on my bucket list to create and manage such a place.

    Through helping to rediscover the power of your own spirit and recognizing the greatness that is all around us, wellness and stewardship come to fruition.  Organizations like the Quiet Gardens model templates of how to take these traits with you.

    How to create a sacred space?

    Lead with your heart and intuition, this is your space to do whatever is necessary for a restful, restorative and inspiring place.  It will be okay to change it down the road.  Your special space honors and celebrate life, fun and creativity.  It is your catalyst and how you track the flow of nature.  While you are the creator, you are also the caretaker, the observer and the storyteller.  All traits that feed a part of your soul that appreciate the moment and needs care.

    These are ideas on how to develop your space.  Keeping it simple and the level of maintenance you can work with are important.

    Do you like art?  I love art in the garden; large or small, round, tall, swings, solid, there are so many choices.  For simplicity, bonsai do it all.  They are an art form, represent nature and are sacred.  I say this a bit tongue-in-cheek.  Once a good friend had me care for his bonsai.  They all died under my watch.  As my living space becomes smaller, I have begun looking at this wonderful art form.  A post for another day.

    Do you need to create privacy or boundaries?  Trees in the ground or in containers. Physical structures like arbors, lattice fencing, or gates.  Small spaces reduce stress.  Create a garden room, any of the above tools will help.

    What are your favorite scents?  Plant for your senses.  Do you like morning bloomers, mid-day or evening ones?  We are a plant rich society, growers and information are available.  Calming plants like rosemary, jasmine, daffodils produce delightful scents. You’ll need to learn each plants life-cycle (flowering time, maturity, etc. for best results)

    Back to my sweet peas, I’ve enclosed a picture.  Such small plant deliveries such power. 

    Do you have favorite colors?  Does your space need inspiration, add silver or a boost of energy as you go out for your day, add red.  Use plants, containers, furniture, art or even the bird that visits your space.  I have a tree frog or two, they are green and yellow with brown toes.  Green for nature, yellow for communication (no idea what it is saying but I always say hi) and brown for the earth and to showcase the other colors of its body.

    If you live in an area where there are seasonal changes celebrate them.  My favorite season is fall, I always try to bring the reds and golds and hope they go partially into the beginning dark of winter.  I am a tree person, the coral bark and paperbark maples transition in spectacular hues from fall to winter.  The blues of conifers light up the twilight and the white bark of the birches catches the winter light just so until the sprouting of pink cherry trees signaled spring.

    Ginkgo leaves in fall


    How do you get to your sacred space? Is it three steps or many steps, a winding path, a labyrinth or a maze?  What material do you like gravel, sand, wood or trex?  Add something that moves down your path; chimes, flags, seedpods, or grasses.  Something that draws you to your sacred space.  Place a seat or two to rest and let your journey of the day be put aside for a while.  Let nature and your sacred space embrace you.