Flowers of the paradise gardens

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Fulgent Tulip triumphs
Star it’s like, why?
It took the shape of not another,
But this is the need for it.

Nasir Khosrow, poet and philosopher  XI c.

Watching the eternal cycle of life - lush spring blossom and rapid fading of beautiful flowers, nomads believed, that only in the gardens of Paradise they bloom forever. The gold tulips, which archaeologists found in Tenlikskiy mound in southeastern Kazakhstan, are more than two thousand years old.

Tulip is unusual flower; even the most indifferent to the plants people know it along with rose, carnation and a few most common cultural flowers. Most people associate tulip with Holland. This is partly true, nowhere in the world, so much attention has been given to the cultivation and development of new varieties, as in this small country; they created an entire sector of the economy, providing tulips and other flowers around the world. But the cultural tulips appeared much earlier and have their origin in fabulous gardens of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, whence they got to Europe in the XVI century only, during the reign of Suleiman the Great. In Turkey, several varieties were developed thanks to the skilful selection of wild tulips, they had lovely subtle forms.

Cult of tulip came to Turkey from the east, with the Seljuk Turks. Tulip was the symbol of ephemerality of earthly existence in the mythology of the nomads of Central Asia. The blooming coincided with the main spring holiday - Nauryz, the beginning of a new year. Watching the eternal cycle of life - lush spring blossom and rapid fading of beautiful flowers, nomads believed, that only in the gardens of Paradise they bloom forever. When nomads laid their leaders to rest, they decorated their clothes with gold plates, depicting tulips. The gold tulips, which archaeologists found in Tenlikskiy mound in southeastern Kazakhstan, are more than two thousand years old.

That fact that the cult of the tulip has Asian roots is quite understandable. Ancestor of modern tulips appeared on the territory of Kazakhstan about 20 million years ago, and later they gradually spread eastward to China and India, westward to southern Europe and North Africa. More than 100 varieties of tulips are known, but nowhere had they reached such diversity as at home. Thirty five species are blooming in spring on the plains and mountains of Kazakhstan.

Tulips got into Europe from Turkey more than four hundred years ago; they gained such popularity in Holland that soon fashion arose on them - tulipmania. Prices for rare plants bulbs reached incredible proportions. In pursuit of profit, people were selling all their property, investing money in tulip bulbs, hoping to get an excess profit soon. Tulips became some kind of a currency. Tulip’s bulbs were used as a pledge for credits, people used them to speculate, repeatedly increasing the original price. The crash occurred in 1637,when the "tulip market" collapsed. Thousands of people lost their fortunes instantly. Ephemerality inherent to the tulips nature, manifested itself also in the business that arose around these beautiful flowers, and only human greed can be blamed.

The crisis had passed, but tulips have not ceased to inspire the Dutch breeders. They developed thousands of new tulip’s breeds. A new stage, that gave a powerful impulse in developing new varieties of tulips, came in the XIX century, when Russian botanists have described new species of tulips from Kazakhstan. Our tulips Greig and Kaufman became the raw material for the creation of the most exquisite and elegant varieties.

Nowadays, wild tulips are still popular in the vast expanses of Kazakhstan, but alarming notes are here already. Half of the species have already registered in the Red Book and require a protection. Unfortunately, love for tulips is not only contemplative. Armfuls of flowers are common phenomenon. Most of the people think that if you do not touch the bulb, pluck only a flower, it will not do harm; but it is not true. Bulb, living deep underground, receives vital force from the over ground part of the plant. If flower is plucked several years in a row, then bulb, without having the necessary nutrition, will become weak and a tulip will die. Plucked flowers do not bear fruits, and the nature deprives of thousands of seeds. It takes 12-15 years to grow an adult plant from the seed.

Every year I wait for spring, so I can go to the steppe and mountains to take a picture of blooming tulips and try to capture a fleeting earthly embodiment of heaven gardens.

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