Tight-knit

Tight-knit: adjective. Closely integrated and bound in love or friendship

I spend a surprising amount of time at the end of March and beginning of April crouching down next to tulips and peering closely at their buds.

Tulipa hageri ‘Little Beauty’


Their sealed buds fascinate me.

Some are a perfect egg shape. A satisfying, plump oval.


Others, like the lily-flowered tulips, are elongated and elegant. They are like a skirt cut ‘on-the-bias’. Their seams twist, emphasising the tulip’s shapely hips.

Tulip ‘Marilyn’ (bud stage)

Each bud has a little curl at the tip.

The parrot tulips clasp their wings together as if they are praying. Or hugging.

Each one is unique. It has its own idiosyncratic protrusions.

Tulip ‘Avignon’ in bud.

Each day, tulip buds take on a little more colour. They start to reveal clues as to their ultimate hue. It is like watching an artist at work, adding layer upon layer, building richness of tone.

The base of the tulip is still green, but at the edges it stretches into yellow and cream. There are the finest pencil lines, fanning out from the centre of the petal.

The bud splits open, revealing the full skirts inside. They are waiting to unfurl.

The sun shines; the petals relax. Their colours deepen.

Each tulip has its own unique pattern. It might be more ruffled than its partners, or have a deeper groove. It might have more dusky markings.

Tulip ‘Purple Peony’

Look at the brush-strokes of plum, raspberry and violet in these petals! Imperfections add charm.

Tulip ‘Purple Peony’

It takes courage to show your colours. To be proud of your wonderful, unique form. The tulips are supporting one another, willing one another on.

There are lots of tulips waiting to unfurl. I can’t wait to see their colours intermingled. Individually, each one is impressive. When they support one another they are truly amazing.

Come back next week to see the tulips all unfurling together!

Tight-knit; adjective. Closely integrated and bound in love or friendship.

Peach blossom, supported by tulips.

The Mindful Gardener aims to bring a moment of calm reflection into your busy life. To receive an email link when a new post is published, click on the big ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page.

We share our planet with a myriad of incredible species. Nature is there to guide us. We too can be closely integrated, bound in love or friendship. We just have to care.



44 Comments Add yours

  1. margaret21 says:

    As a child, I found tulips the most boring flower on earth. So plain. It’s taken me a long time to enjoy their subtlety as they develop and unfold. Yours is a lovely celebration of their charms.

    1. Yes, I think I thought tulips were either red or yellow, and although I preferred them to daffodils, I didn’t realise they were such a diverse bunch.

  2. Cathy says:

    Tulips came to me late as well, but in the ‘old days’ tulips were just red and yellow soldiers, or certainly in people’s gardens they were. Now of course the choice is vast so what’s not to like?! Such apt descriptions, as always (like a bias cut skirt 😉) – thanks

    1. Yes, I only remember yellow and red tulips as a child. I wonder when it changed?

      1. Cathy says:

        Like plants, I wonder if it was down to availability as there were no garden centres and specialist plant companies (assuming there were at least some) would not have had the wide publicity they have these days. Garden centres probably only appeared in the last 25-30 years I think

      2. Yes. I started noticing tulips when I came back from Australia 10 years ago and read a Sarah Raven book.

      3. Cathy says:

        My eyes were opened when I visited Lord Leycester Hospital gardens in Warwick perhaps 15 years ago and there were borders filled with mass plantings of pastel tulips – funny how moments like these can change your thinking in an instant

      4. Yes; once seen, never forgotten!

  3. Lovely pictures and great writing as always Ali. I enjoy reading your posts.

    1. That is so kind of you. Thank you.

  4. I love tulips so much! Your words and pictures struck my soul. Their beautiful jewel tones against the green scream spring. So very beautiful. 🌷💕

    1. You say the best things. Thanks, Lisa.

  5. Cathy says:

    Wow, so many buds and some already opening! 🙂 I love tulips in all shapes and sizes and look forward to seeing more of yours. Mine will need a couple of weeks at least yet!

    1. Yes, it looked a couple of weeks ago like the tulips would be super early, but they are re-setting themselves with some cooler weather.

  6. Chloris says:

    I love how you get up close and examine all your plants so minutely. I agree about tulip buds I enjoy them just as much as the flowers. Purple Peony is luscious.

    1. I think it is in my top 3 tulips!

  7. Really lovely photos, and a lovely photo essay.

    1. Thank you Chris, I am glad you enjoyed this.

  8. Heyjude says:

    I love how you get so intimate with your flowers. Beautiful words for beautiful flowers. Have a lovely weekend Ali xx

    1. Thanks, Jude! I am doing a lot of tulip-gazing!

  9. Michelle says:

    I love the appreciation here for the courageousness that tulips hold. It really does take courage to show your true colors and be your authentic self. I have been writing about this feeling lately, in preparation of sharing it on my blog as a part of self-care. Thank you for this reflection Ali!

    1. I look forward to reading about this, Michelle. I always enjoy your posts.

  10. bcparkison says:

    Natures artistry is truely wonderful. Your photos are grand.

    1. It is amazing how many patterns or textures on petals are similar to art techniques.

  11. Such beautiful photos Ali and they are not even open yet. I love how you show us all the different stages and sides of a flower. You have taught me to be more observant. Happy weekend!

    1. That is wonderful to hear, Cindy. It gives me so much pleasure to observe plants closely, so you make me super-happy to know you have caught the bug too.

  12. Mine are coming up nicely and should bloom by Easter, rather late for here following a long winter. In the meantime, I’ll feast my eyes on yours! ~ Jo

    1. I think mine are a good two weeks ahead of last year. It always interests me to chart the variations from year to year. Each year there are slightly different combinations as different blooms respond to different conditions.

  13. Christina says:

    Beautiful images Ali

  14. Rupali says:

    Gorgeous every image.

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Lovely close-ups – good things come in small packages!

  16. Ann Mackay says:

    Love the way you’ve caught all those little details – tulips are fascinating flowers! And I love the ‘Purple Peony’ – would like to grow that one here… 🙂

  17. susurrus says:

    Lovely tender shots. My favourite is the green egg shaped one – there’s a real skill to making green look so interesting.

  18. Michelle says:

    Hi dear, I love your photos…they are so beautiful. What lense and camera do you use for these close-ups ?

    1. I use a Olympus E-M10 ii with either a 14-42mm or a 60mm Macro lens. Very happy with it!

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