The Instant Florist Vase: the Tulipière
IN EARLY JUNE, I cut fuchsia, slipper pink, and dove white peonies from my bushes and stuffed two stems each into each of my five fingers of my tulip tree, a multi-open vase style. Mine is shaped like a hand in the “halt!” position, so that the result looks like a feather-tip fan or a fuzzy caterpillar relaxing in the sun.
I sometimes fill my tulip tree with real tulips – I love the way it orchestrates them into sculptural bouquets as their petals open and the stems bend. More often than not, I use it for whatever my garden offers, believing myself to be smart for not being so literal. But it turns out I’m not half as creative as I think I am.
Prominent Amsterdam-based Delft pottery merchant Robert Aronson explained that “tulip tree” is a misnomer. â17th century Delft makers,â he said, âmade all kinds of flower pots for British Queen Mary II, known to fill her palace vases three times a week with fresh cut flowers. The desire of the makers of Delft to curry royal favor led to innovation, notably in the multi-spout vases. But they “were meant for all kinds of cut flowers, not just tulips,” Aronson said. In the 19th century, a fascination with European financial speculation on bulbs in the 1630s confused the tulip mania with the multi-necked vessel, he explained.
New York interior designer and decorative arts historian Thomas Jayne believes 17th-century tulip trees have a practical function as well. âBefore the flowers hybridized, most of the stems were not stiff enough to stand upright; the tulip trees supported them and allowed architectural arrangements otherwise impossible, âhe said. That virtue aside, Mr. Jayne enjoys buying vases for clients because “they are almost as beautiful on their own as they are with flowers.”
Ceramicist Frances Palmer, after seeing splendid examples at the Winter Antiques Show in New York last year, was inspired to create tulip trees in her Connecticut studio. âPeople love these kinds of vases because it makes organizing super easy,â she said. âI use them for my dahlias. Each flower has its own cameo, but that’s quite a bunch at the end of the day.
New York flower designer Emily Thompson said, âI love the wonderful, knotted mess that a tulip tree can bring. Materials can get tangled with each other and float above the vase. Ms Thompson enjoys inserting grasses, branches and foxtail to move away from feminine arrangements with predictable colors and “into a meadow experience.” Above all, Ms. Thompson loves the way the tulip tree grows it: âThey make you look at flowers and shapes a little differently. “
Corrections and amplifications
Corien Ridderikhoff’s Tulip Tower is available at corienridderikhoff.nl. An earlier version of this story incorrectly gave the source as corienidderikhoff.com. (March 3, 2017)
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