Reluctant Dragons

Tulips form a genus of spring-blooming
perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes.
They are usually large, showy and brightly colored,
generally red, pink, yellow, or white.

The National Capital Commission having prohibited all photography, the Mayor of Ottawa having implored, the National Capital Commission having relented, the Big Guy dropped me off at one of the entrances to the Tulip Festival to walk the walk and to take photos at an appropriate physical distance from anyone else crazy enough to be out in the sub-zero temperatures. It was 6:45. The 06:45 kind.

By the time I was a third of the way along the iconic path I had two things. First, an ice cream headache without the calories. Second, the knowledge that reluctance is not limited to my tulips this year. There was a decent show at either end and nothing at all in between.

Well. This too shall pass. Or arrive, as the case may be. In the meantime, I decided to cobble together a video tribute to the tulips that I had hoped to see, drawing on photos from other years when the flowers actually were “large, showy, and brightly colored.”


  1. Jim Taylor

    Alas, I can’t grow tulips. The deer eat them. They don’t eat daffodils, for some reason, but they love tulips. And fresh rose shoots (I hope it gives them a rose-shoot headache.) They also ate the top off the fuchsia I tried for the first time this spring. And the young bucks rub their growing horns against trees that are still too young to protect themselves with thick bark, and strip the trunks bare of the sap-transmitting layer they need to stay alive. I lost a weeping spruce and a mugho pine to those, umm, horny critters.
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – I feel your pain. The squirrels got all but about 6 of the magnolia blooms this year. Little rats. As for deer, family and friends who live in the country have similar stories to tell. Serious gardens — those intended to produce something to eat — are protected by 10-foot mesh fences, since the deer can jump 8 feet from a standing start, or so I’ve been told. They’re also small enough to discourage a deer from taking a running start. I guess they know they couldn’t get out if once they got in. It makes you wonder how early humans eked out a living at all, at all, doesn’t it?

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Judith – Oh, my. You should consider booking to be here for three weeks next May. Three weeks to allow for the weather; next May to allow for, well, you know.

  2. Such splendour! And yet, a single tulip will suffice to herald spring, the end of winter, and the promise of summer.

    They make such a bold statement that I can remember individual tulips that have caught my attention: one of an unusual colour or an unfamiliar variety.

    The destruction of the Dutch harvest this year seems emblematic of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – Indeed, a single flower *can* be more impressive than a bouquet. (Isn’t the art of Japanese flower arranging and garden design predicated on that premise?) Getting the same effect from a whole bed of tulips is tricky. The eye focuses in a way the camera cannot.

  3. Barry

    We had a friend on Manitoulin Island that solved the problems with the deer. He kept a cross-bow in his kitchen and a freezer in his basement. That protected his flowers plus his food budget

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.