Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Tulips brighten up dreary winter days

February 23, 2014 12:00 am
In these cold and gray days of winter, tulips offer us a first glimpse of spring. 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 of them.
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 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.
Tulips come in a wide variety of colors, from the truest white to all shades of yellow and red to the deepest purple nearing black. Almost 4000 varieties have been developed. In the language of flowers, the tulip means "perfect love." Specific colors, however, can have other meanings:
Tulip: perfect love
pink: caring
purple: royalty
red: declaration of love
white: Forgiveness or worthiness
yellow: hopelessly in love/cheerful thoughts/sunshine
variegated tulips: beautiful eyes
Did you know:
Tulips are a member of the lily family. They originated from the northern temperate regions of the Old World stretching from the Mediterranean to Japan, but were most abundant on the steppes of Central Asia. The Viennese ambassador to Turkey introduced the Western world to tulips when he sent some seeds home to Austria.
The European tulip industry began with the arrival of a shipment of tulip bulbs from Constantinople (now Istanbul) at Antwerp in 1562. Tulip Mania consumed the Netherlands in the 17th century. Single bulbs sometimes brought several thousand dollars until the government was forced to intervene. Today, the Netherlands is still the center of tulip culture.
Jim Gainan is President of Gainan's Flowers and Garden Center in Billings.
Questions or comments? Email Jim Gainan @