Tulipa protosflorum literally means first flowering tulip. This tulip was given to me by a gardening friend and is always the first bulb to bloom in my garden after the snow melts in late winter. In fact, I find it to be one of the only species of tulip that blooms constantly in my garden throughout the year. Talk about a great plant.
Unfortunately, this hard to find bulb has no root system or photosynthesis capabilities. Worse yet, it is not alive. Tulipa protosflorum is in fact the result of a gardener's prank. Two years ago, someone placed this plant, in what looked like a pot, in Depot Park in Peterborough. Every week as the garden volunteers weeded the garden, we marveled at how long the tulip bloomed. About mid-July, I looked carefully at the plant and realized that it was in fact not alive at all. It was one of the most realistic artificial flowers I had ever seen. The volunteers decided to leave it in the garden but by the end of the September, it disappeared.
I didn't notice it again until the first hard frost and it emerged from the wilting foliage in my upper border. It took me several days of sleuthing to determine that Laura, one of the volunteers in the Peterborough Parks, had played a prank on me. I left the tulip in my garden and I had many passersby comment on it last fall and early winter. Now that the snow has melted, it is back.
Tulipa protosflorum is a reminder for me to keep having fun in the garden and to not take anything too seriously. A friendly prank can be just what is needed during the hustle-bustle gardening season. And who knows what Laura will find growing next in her garden? When she least, expects I will make a retaliatory strike!