The Making of Tulipmania

Hopefully everyone had the chance to see “Tulipmania: 150,000 Blooms” at the Dixon.  We really enjoyed sharing such an amazing sight with our city, and we have the Dixon garden staff to thank for the opportunity to witness so much beauty in one place, specifically Lorenzo Perez.   I had the chance to ask Lorenzo a number of questions about the tulip exhibition and his part in making it so spectacular. 

 Lorenzo's favorite tulips.

First, Lorenzo and I talked about the planning process for planting 150,000 bulbs.  He told me they usually pick the prettiest colors first, although it seems there are no unattractive colors.  They arrange the colors to complement each other, and the height of the tulip is also considered when planning the location of the bulb.  The taller tulips are planted towards the back or center of a bed to insure all of the blooms are visible.  The tulips are ordered from all over the world. After the flower beds are planned, then the special designs are thought out.  This year the garden staff planted tulips in the shape of a sun and the Mississippi River. 

Next, I talked to Lorenzo about the planting process and the time it takes to get 150,000 tulip bulbs into the ground.  The garden staff started planting the tulips in November of 2014, and it took about a month and a half to get them all in the ground.  Tulip bulbs are best when planted in the winter, because the ground has to be cold enough for them to flower later.  If it is too warm, the bloom may not be as pretty or it may not bloom at all.  It is also more likely to rot if the ground is not cold enough. 

 This year 150,000 bulbs were planted throughout the 17 acre Dixon property, and Lorenzo planted more than anyone. He personally planted close to 30,000 of the bulbs, and he estimated that he could plant almost 1,200 in three hours. The scale of this year’s tulip exhibition is not typical.  The soil needs time (a couple of years) to recuperate from all of the bulbs, and this waiting period prevents a certain tulip bulb eating fungus from making its home in the gardens. 

 Over 7,000 tulips planted here.

Once all the hard work of planting is complete, tulips don’t require a lot of maintenance.  All that’s left is to wait for them to bloom, and they do it on their own time based on the temperature.  Once the blooms are gone, the tulip bulbs must be pulled out of the ground to prevent rot.  Then, the process will begin again this winter in preparation for next spring.

Thank you to Lorenzo and the garden staff for allowing Memphis to witness nature at its most beautiful.  We look forward to next years tulips!

-Amanda Gutknecht, Communications Associate

Posted by Chantal Drake at 1:04 PM
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