introducing tulip 'sarah raven'

Sarah introduces the tulip that she has championed in the fields of Holland over the last few years, explaining why she loves this particular tulip and how it has been bred.

This is tulip ‘Sarah Raven’ and what a beauty it is! I have some friends in Holland who are always taking me to see new tulips. They know that I love lily-flowered and they know I like the dark, rich colours and so they introduced me to this tulip which had been bred, I think, about four or five years ago. They asked if I liked it and would I perhaps like it to be named after me - of course I jumped at it!

How has this been bred? It is basically a lily-flowered variety, which are the pointy-tipped slim ones, that has been crossed several times with a dark rich one perhaps like ‘Jan Reus’. I don't know the exact parentage of this and they probably wouldn't even tell me. They hybridise the tulips and then they grow them out in vast quantities - this literally would have been about fifteen, twenty years ago - and then they select the ones that they think are good strong growers, healthy, have good colours and good flower forms. Then they gradually bulk them up, they may only have one bulb to start with and then five and so on until they end up with fields of them.

We now have enough of a field of ‘Sarah Raven’ to be able to offer it to all our customers and the thing that is remarkable about it is that it's this really, really, dark rich colour - it's a beautiful almost ebony colour with a beautiful shape. It's very early (which is handy) and it's really stable, stout and strong so it's fantastic in pots. It also flowers for ages - in the garden here and in the trial it's been flowering longer than any other so far. I'd say it’s a really cracking tulip.

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