Monday, January 24, 2011

I Love Tulips

I don't know about you, but I just love tulips - real life, brightly coloured tulips, especially those big blousy parrot tulips in strange colours and patterns. I have an old rectangular tulip vase in blue delft, with holes in the lid to take these once very precious blooms, and I still take a lot of pleasure from using it, even today, when tulips aren't quite so costly as they once were. But I also love tulips in textile design and once you start looking for them, you seem to see them everywhere. Here's a nice Scottish example I found myself listing in my eBay shop earlier today. This is a piece of very old crochet lace, which is actually an edging for a tablecloth. I suspect it may have been used but carefully removed, when the linen centre wore out. Or maybe it was never used at all, but made and put away - it has some small pieces of discolouration, but stored textiles often do acquire these nasty little marks unless you put them away very clean and dry and carefully wrapped in white acid free tissue. Laundering has already helped, and will probably help some more, but the work itself is lovely - as you can see from the picture above - with lots of stylised, deco tulips - a bit reminiscent of our very own Charles Rennie Mackintosh  - and how those shapes lend themselves to that design! I'm hoping somebody buys this, restores it - and makes a wonderful tablecloth out of it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is Spring Coming? Well, the Snowdrops are here!


I've always loved snowdrops, but I had no idea until quite recently that there were so many varieties or that the rarer kind could make so very much money.  Single bulbs, seemingly, can sell on eBay for more than £200! There have been comparisons with the eighteenth century Tulip Fever.

Scotland's gardens are rich in snowdrops and there are 'snowdrop festivals' all over the country. There are winter flowering snowdrops and summer flowering snowdrops and everything in between. Culzean Castle is our local snowdrop haven. You can wander for miles, and enjoy the sight of masses of these lovely little flowers, among the sheltered woodlands, along the shore. Later, they give place to wood anemones, daffodils and then bluebells and violets and primroses. Tantalising even to write it. Having had an appallingly icy November and December with plenty of real snow, we're now experiencing much milder, wetter weather. Long may it continue. It seems to have encouraged the birds to start staking out their territories, and the many bulbs I planted last autumn, in the pots outside the window, to poke their heads out - and a few brave snowdrops to start blooming. We do wonder, though, if we have seen the last of the snow. We doubt it. How could we be so lucky. And our venerable old apple tree at the bottom of the garden never ventures a blossom or a leaf before May!

All of this, though, goes to explain why I much prefer January and February to November. November is the wrong side of the year and thoroughly depressing. After all the Christmas decorations are cleared away for another year, I always go out and buy some spring flowers, pots of hyacinths (which tend to be 'half price' in our Supermarkets after Christmas) and primulas and narcissi, as well as bunches of early tulips - possibly my favourite flower of all time. And here in Scotland, by the end of January, you notice a very definite lengthening of the days, which is always good for the soul!

It's time, as well, for me to reactivate my eBay shop. I didn't do much over Christmas, having too much other writing - and entertaining - to do. But there's something about the sight of those white snowdrops, and the sight of all that lovely, clean, white linen, piling up in my cupboard, that makes me want to get started again!