Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Growing Up: Bright spring tulips are energy-packed mood changers

I love living where we see a distinct change of seasons and none is more dramatic to me as the change from cold grays of winter -- well, most winters -- to the bright promise of spring. I look forward to seeing the early bulbs start to peek out of the flowerbeds, especially tulips.

I call them 'hope in a vase'. These energy-packed little mood changers continue to grow while in a vase of water and brighten a room like nothing else can.

In fact, according to a 10-month behavioral research study conducted by Rutgers, the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions and heightens feelings of life satisfaction. The study also found that people tend to place flowers in areas of their home that are open to visitors suggesting that flowers are to be shared.

Brightening your home with tulips is effortless. Tuck a few tulips into a small vase and put it in a place you go often -- on your bathroom counter, the corner of your kitchen sink or nightstand. A single tulip in a little vase can be as pretty as a large arrangement. Fill a pitcher or favorite vase with tulips and place on the dining room table or an end table in the living room.

Tulips are dynamic and cut flowers will continue to elongate in the vase. Kids will enjoy watching them "grow." Or place a few pots of growing tulips all in one color in a basket or ceramic dish on your coffee table for an eye-catching display. Potted tulips are very easy to care for; just add water when the top of the soil is dry and enjoy the colorful show.

It's best to purchase or clip tulips when the buds are still closed. They will last longer and you get the added pleasure of watching them open.

Once you get them home, fill your vase with water, cut the stems with a pair of sharp scissors or pruning shears and immediately place them in the vase. Or better yet, cut the tulips under water. This prevents air bubbles from blocking water trying to flow up the stem and will increase their longevity.

Tulips are available in a wide variety of colors, from the truest white to all shades of yellow and red to the deepest purple, almost black. Almost 4000 varieties have been developed. In the language of flowers, the tulip means "perfect love." Specific colors, however, can have other meanings:

• orange: energy and passion

• pink: affection and caring

• purple: royalty

• red: declaration of love

• white: heaven, newness and purity

• yellow: hopelessly in love, cheerful thoughts and sunshine

• variegated tulips: beautiful eyes

So here's to the promise of spring and to hope.


Jim Gainan is president of Gainan's Flower and Garden Center in Billings.