Lily-flowering Tulip

"Like tulip-beds of different shape & dyes,
Bending beneath the invisible west-wind's sighs."

-Thomas Moore's
Lalla Rookh:
The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan


While planting autumn bulbs in 2003, we placed four 'Burgundy' with four 'China Pink' Lily-flowering tulips by a gatepost near a female kiwi. In a shallower layer above these tulips we laid in over two-dozen 'Whitewall Purple' snow crocuses. The location is quite sunny, getting a good deal of late-morning & early-afternoon sunlight.

The dark almost electric purplish-violet 'Burgundy' was introduced in 1957, a spontaneous mutation of the rose-purple 'Captain Fryatt.' The blooms, occuring April & especially in May, are approximately two feet tall, vase-shaped with pointed petals. It perennializes easily & over time can spread in place.

Although Lily-flowering tulips have had their own division for only a few decades & were formerly included amidst the Cottage Tulips division, we know from Ottomon tile paintings that Lily-flowering tulips have been in cultivation a great long while, & were an artistic ideal preferred over egg-shaped tulips. The "flame-like" petals best captured the symbolic meaning Divine Fire, the fiery essence that gives life to the world & which causes the mystic to seek Allah with an ecstatic desire like unto a husband for a wife, so that God is even said to be "Peri-faced," that is, as a beloved fairy-wife to humanity.

The species heritage of the lily-flowering group is lost to time, but it is certainly older than its relatively modern group-categorization implies. The majority of Lily-flowering tulips would have T. fulgens & T. retroflexa in their earlier heritage, with modern hybriders adding T. acuminata to extend the varieties.

There are not nearly so many varieties as there are for the major egg-shaped hybrids. Many of the earliest varieties have died out of the trade due to weak stems & other problems. The modern lily-flowering tulips have been developed with stronger stems.


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