Passionate team tend to tulip success

September 25, 2021 BY

Green thumb: City of Greater Bendigo horticulturalist, Kerina McIntyre, with one of the tulip displays at the Conservatory Gardens. Photos: JULIE HOUGH

BEHIND the fifty thousand tulips that paint the city red, yellow and pink this spring are seven horticulturists set on bringing colour and positivity to the region.

It’s a mammoth effort to get the much-loved displays to bloom, and horticulturalist with the City of Greater Bendigo, Kerina McIntyre, said planning starts six months in advance.

“It’s phenomenal actually,” she said.

“We begin as soon as we have the next catalogue from Broersen Bulbs, who we get our bulbs off, and we’ll sit down as a team, go over previous records, have ideas of different displays of what we want to do in our mind and each person will have a go at doing a particular bed.

“Over the years we’ve worked out roughly by various patterns how many tulips we need to order but there’s more to it than that.

“A lot of tulips are in various heights ranging from 35 to 65 centimetres and they can flower at early, mid or late spring, so we have to make sure that the tulips in each bed complement each other.”

To prepare the beds the team check the pH levels of the soil and add different fertilisers to help rejuvenate the area.

Every single one of the bulbs are planted by hand, and this year it took the seven horticulturalists about a month. Hours of work then follow to tend to the flowers as they grow.

“Once the tulips start appearing through the soil, there’d be three hours minimum a day just ensuring weed control,” Ms McIntyre said.

“This year I put some annuals with the displays in the Queen’s Gardens so that adds to the work because you have to maintain the annuals as well with fertilizing.

“There’s at least two days out of the week dedicated to it because it’s not just the actual tulip beds, it’s the surroundings as well, having the lawns perfect, the edges perfect.

“We’ve done a lot of work with the roses as well and the displays that complement in the Conservatory.”

By this point, Ms McIntyre said the team are “getting pretty good at it”, knowing that their work brings joy to people around the city.

“That’s the reason why I do it,” she said.

“I just love seeing how everyone’s so happy, the amount of children that come down and have their photos taken in front of them.

“Everything we do is just to make sure people appreciate it and it’s even more so this year, seeing them come out of lockdown, everyone needs this at the moment and I can really see everyone enjoying it.”

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