Posts Tagged ‘broken tulip’

From a distance, I noticed yesterday that some yellow tulips were getting ready to bloom in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy deliberately chooses colorful, photogenic flowers for her garden, so I love visiting it frequently. As I got close, I noted the spectacular two-color patterns of these tulips. When I sent a photo to Cindy, she informed me that they are known as “broken tulips.”

Perhaps she told me some time in the past what “broken tulips” are, but I rushed to Google to find out why they are considered to be “broken.” This term refers to the dramatic color-breaking of these flowers, an effect highly sought after during the 17th-century Dutch “tulip mania,” according to Wikipedia. Historically, these changes are caused by a virus infects the tulip bulb and causes the cultivar to “break” its lock on a single color, resulting in intricate bars, stripes, streaks, featherings or flame-like effects of different colors on the petals.

Unfortunately, the virus weakens the bulbs and as a result some famous color-broken varieties no long exist. Today’s “broken tulips” are no longer caused by a viral infection, but are stable variants produced through breeding. Cindy noted to me that her tulips have been going strong for at least five years.

I was feeling creative yesterday when I took these photos and tried a lot of different angles and settings to get some unusual looks. I decided mainly to feature the areas with the different colors and deliberately shot with a shallow depth of field that causes the edges that are away from the center to be soft and out of focus. I think it worked out pretty well.

I decided to post these images today as a counterbalance to the photograph of a wolf spider that I posted earlier, a kind of “beauty and the beast” set of postings. I am guessing that almost everyone will like at least one of the two postings.

broken tulip

broken tulip

broken tulip

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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After seeing three of my recent postings that featured unopened tulips, some readers might come to the erroneous conclusion that I don’t like the colorful flowers of blooming tulips. How could that be possible? Everyone seems to like the cheery colors of tulips.

My neighbor, and fellow photographer and blogger Cindy Dyer, has planted quite a variety of tulips in her garden and I recently took some photos of two very different species. The first is a small, delicate tulip know as the “Lady Jane” (Tulipa clusiana var. ‘Lady Jane’). I am not sure that I have every seen a more petite tulip and I really like its subtle colors.

The second tulip is big and bold and multi-colored, almost a visual equivalent of shouting. This style of tulip is known as a “broken” tulip, because of the way that the colors are broken, resulting in intricate bars, stripes, streaks, featherings, or flame-like effects of different colors on the petals. According to Wikipedia, this effect was originally produced by a tulip-breaking virus, and bulbs with this effect went for exorbitant prices in 17th century Netherlands, during a period known as “tulip mania.” Today, tulips displaying a “broken” effect are stable variants and the result of breeding, not viral infection.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved


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