When I saw Mr. Action Line and avid
gardener Mike Smedley was planning a lecture about
tulips for the Life-Long Learning Series put on by the Professional Associates of Fort Lewis College, I had to find
time to attend.
And he made it well worth the effort for this
columnist and about 80 other garden lovers Thursday eve-ning.
Smedley billed it as more of a romp than a tiptoe
through the tulips, and boy was it. From the origin of the species (with a nod to Darwin), to its journey through
Turkey to the Netherlands and what grows well here, Smedley was thorough, fun and charming.
First of all, he got us with a trick question, asking where the flower originated. Everyone said that the flower originated in Turkey. Wrong. It originally comes
from the shadow of the Tian Shan Mountains in Central Asia, the world of Genghis Khan, with other genetic material
coming from the Caucasus Mountains.
Travels along the Silk Road brought it to the
Middle East, where a dagger-petal shaped version arrived in Persia in about 1050. It was beloved of the Seljuk Turks
and later the rulers of the Ottoman Empire, whose soldiers went into battle with verses from the Quran on the front
of their undergarments and a tulip on the back.
The Ottomans planted it in what they called
paradise gardens, created for beauty, while folks from Europe still were planting gardens only for their usefulness.
(Although how much pleasure a person can have entering a garden with severed heads on white pillars at the entrance
The flower arrived in Europe by the time of the
Battle of Kosovo in 1389, where the 30,000-strong forces of Murad I defeated Serbian Christian Prince Lazar. That's
where the English name came from - the Turks wore the flowers on their turbans, and tulip is a variation on
Perhaps the most fascinating chapter in the
history of tulips was when bulbs became a hotly traded commodity in the wine bars of the Netherlands. The Semper
Augustus tulip, the rarest of the rare, went for more than $1 thousand a bulb at the craze's height, before a crash
on Feb. 5, 1637 wiped out many a fortune.
Luckily, our climate of dry, cold winters, brutally hot summers, thin soil, lots of rocks and mountainous terrain is like old home week for tulips. That's what
their homeland in the Tian Shan Mountains is like. And that's why species tulips, those that are the least hybridized
and the most genetically pure, do well here. But while tulips are perennials, they are not eternal. They are, however, the bulbs in the garden that most often outlive the gardener.
Now, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, is ideal
planting time. Smedley recommends those among you who want to tackle the "aristocrat of spring" to have fun mixing
and matching species and colors like paint chips at Home Depot.
Be prepared to fight off the deer, for which
tulips are like candy. Fences, stringing clear fishing line and spraying Liquid Fence and Deer Off are some of the
best bets. If you're not up to the challenge, daffodils and hyacinths, two other spring flowers, are
I'll never look at a tulip the same way
Possibly celebrating their October birthdays with
an early winter snow are Cheryl Freiemuth, Maxine Headrick, Tyler
Lorenzen and Mary Jo
Very special birthday greetings go out to
Ruth Parkinson on her 85th birthday
My thanks go out to the Lions Club of Durango for
a yummy (okay, a couple of yummy) bowls of chili Saturday. The club's annual Chili Fiesta brought in 208 diners, up
35 from last year, which is definitely a trend in the right direction. Part of that was thanks to folks attending the
Durango High School Homecoming football game and others at the 4-H Rodeo at the La Plata County
The club depends on member
Jim Miles' tried-and-true recipe, and this year he and his
band of helpers prepared 400 servings. If most people were like me and went back for seconds, they ladled most of it
The oldest service club in Durango by a few
months, the club celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2008. (Sorry, Rotary Club of Durango, the Lions get the bragging
And like all service clubs, the Lions Club works
to help the community. One of its activities is to collect used eyeglasses and refurbish the frames to hold new
lenses. After all, these days, the frames are a big part of the cost. I'll have more on that in a future
I've had very few Lions Club stories in the nine
and a half years I've been writing Neighbors, but now that I know Jim
and Carol Lewin and
Susie and Dan
Amman are members, I have sources! Thanks to the Ammans for the information about
how many people enjoyed chili at the fundraiser.
On Thursday, the La Plata Family Centers
Coalition invited a number of community members to learn more about it and its work.
Paul Gelose and his crew at The Palace Restaurant served up
a bounty of appetizers as they welcomed guests to the Depot Room.
Gelose said he is supporting the coalition
because it supports the community, and he cares about the community. (In fact, one definition of a successful
community is that it is a place where families thrive.)
Vaughn, the vice chairwoman of the board, aptly quoted the organization's Web site
at the event, "In these days when villages have been replaced by cities, and extended families are scattered across
the country, we have to create new ways to meet the needs of families and children."
About 10 percent of the population of La Plata
County, 4,000 families, received help from a family center in the county in the last year.
The centers support family strengths and healthy
child development, as well as providing services to families in crisis or in need of resources and
One of many services the family centers provide
is after-school care for 5 year olds so they don't go home to an empty house. Vaughn said that is why she opened her
checkbook, because she had twin boys who were 5 at the time, and she couldn't imagine children that age home alone
for three hours until parents got home from work.
Vaughn, secretary of the board
Ryan Brown and Executive Director
Gaye Weiss organized the event. Weiss said services the
family centers in La Plata County provide are unduplicated in our community. They include several early-childhood
development programs, Safe Exchange for parents undergoing or who have undergone a divorce where domestic violence
was involved and Latino outreach. The Liz Cary
Community Playroom is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
One mother came in for help because her young son
had asthma, and she had no insurance or money to get him an inhaler. Within an hour, the family advocate had enrolled
the child in Child Health Plan Plus and the child had an insurance card - and shortly thereafter, an
About 32 people attended the event, including La
Plata County Commissioner Kellie Hotter, local
nonprofit guru Bob Over, Margaret Kraul, president of Wells Fargo Bank, Drs.
Mark and Mandy
Vivolo, the owner of the Hampton Inn, Rick and Cathy
Gaskell, the owners of Cobalt Automation, John and Jody
Earley, with Saddle Butte Pipeline Co., and Jack
Vaughn, the chairman of Peak Energy Resources, a major financial supporter of the
Compared to last year, the LFCC has had a 76
percent increase in family-support needs and a 40 percent drop in funding, both because of our hard economic times.
No matter how you look at it, that's bad math. The center operates on a lean 9 percent of expenses for
administration, so the cutting is likely to come from these programs and services that are so
The coalition is asking for help in any way
people can. In addition to money (sorely needed), volunteers for a fundraiser on Feb. 27, 2010, also are being
sought. It's a Kelley Hunt concert complete with silent auction. (So items are needed for that, as
Monetary donations may be sent to the Durango
Family Center, 489 Florida Road, Durango, CO 81301. You can designate donations for the Family Centers of Durango and
Bayfield or the Family Programs in Ignacio and Fort Lewis Mesa.
If you would like to attend the next social
gathering or have a tour of the LFCC, call Vaughn at 749-3322.
To learn more, visit www.lp
Celebrating their anniversaries with ghosties and
ghouls lurking are Richard and
Bonnie Jung, Troy and Leanne
and Diana Smith and
Kent and Kathy
For information about upcoming events and
fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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