The Tulip Festival in Silvan
The Beauty of Tulips
It's Spring in the Dandenong Ranges, just east of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and the tulips are blooming in all their glory.
That's especially true at the Tulip Festival in Silvan. It's a place with lovely rich chocolate soil that's popular with flower and bulb growers and market gardeners. I used to know it well as I taught at the little three-teacher school some decades ago. Happily, the area has not changed too much and it retains it's beauty with its rolling hills, lovely vistas and friendly people.
Now it's the Tulip Festival all long the Monbulk Road, but especially at Tesselaars, Dutch bulb and flower growers who settled in the area a couple of generations ago. This year the Festival runs from September 11th to October 7th, but it's around the same time each year and is certainly worth a visit.
Silvan, in the Heart of the Dandenongs
Beautiful in the spring, or anytime, Silvan is in the Dandenong Ranges and less than an hour's drive from Melbourne.
Where Did the Word 'Tulip' Originate?
All through the grounds there are signs that give useful information for those who are interested in tulips. One of these boards tells us that long ago a visitor in Turkey saw a man wearing an unusual flower tucked into his turban. He pointed to the flower and asked its name. However, the Turkish man misunderstood and thought he was being asked the word for 'turban.' That, we are told, was the origin of the name of this lovely flower.
Tulips originated in the Middle East and were taken to Europe in the 1500s and there are many varieties, from ones that bloom early or late in the season to tall and dwarf varieties, ones of many different colours and those that are variegated.
Have you enjoyed your armchair visit to the Tulip Festival?
Tesselaar's Hand-planted Tulips
The long rows of tulips that are grown to produce flowers for the market are not planted by hand, but up near the road there are many that are. Many of the flowers here are special and it is a joy to walk among them.
The hand-planted tulips are named, but I'm not telling you their names, as I've already forgotten most - you'll just have to come and see them for yourself! But take my word for it, they really are beautiful - on the outside and they have lovely patterns inside when they open, too.
Actually all those long rows in the fields are named, too, although a couple of rows at the end say, 'Mixed bulbs' and the flowers in those rows are quite a variety of colours.
Stalls at the Festival
There are many stalls at the Tulip Festival at Tesselaars.
Garden Stalls: There are places selling a variety of bulbs, flowers (I saw some lovely daffodils with pink 'cups' in one stall), and many different items that would be useful for both adults and young gardening enthusiasts. I even bought a pottery 'worm' with a funny face - stuck in a pot it will tell me whether the soil is damp or needs watering!
Garden Decorations: There are stalls selling plastic and wooden windmills for decoration and for keeping off marauding birds.
Clothing Stalls: These sell a variety of wear - imaginative for children, practical for adults.
The Clog Shop: This was a permanent shop and had a great range of wooden clogs in different sizes and colours.
Food Stalls: There were many: some simply sold coffee or ice cream, while others sold Dutch fish bites, poffertjes, and many other Netherlander delicacies. Yet others had big marquees where there were tables and seating and full meals could be enjoyed under shelter.
We had brought a picnic and only needed the addition of hot drinks, so we had a lovely time near a massive rhododendron - tree, that is all it could be called, it was so huge. Dropped flowers carpeted the ground below it.
The Colours of Tulips
At the Festival we saw tulips of many different colours, including the black tulip, made famous in the story by Alexander Dumas, which we had to read when studying French at school, years ago.
The tulip itself is a symbol of perfect love, but the colours of tulips have meanings, as do many other flowers, too. For example, the orange ones signify happiness and warmth, while red, of course, is for love. The white stand for purity, the purple for royalty, while if you are given variegated tulips it means that you have beautiful eyes.
Other Delights at Tesselaars
As we walked around, there were many delights that attracted our attention These included:
- The Fairy Hollow hidden under tall trees, with toadstools, fairies and a bridge to cross.
- The Sculpture Exhibits, mostly down in the long fields of tulips.
- The Holland Stage where we watched a demonstration of dancing that is popular in Amsterdam.
- The Barrel-organ: Further on there was a mechanical barrel-organ that was a delight for children and adults alike with so many instruments working away and producing well-known tunes - all conducted by a figure in the centre that rhythmically waved a baton.
- The Dutch Games area was fun and there were explanations about how to play them.
Finally, we visited the Habitat @ Tesselaars Plant and Bulb sales, to stock up for ourselves and friends, before taking a last look at those colourful fields that stretched so far.
© 2014 Bronwen Scott-Branagan