2 JUNE 1939, Page 19

In the Garden

An amateur gardener seriously assures me that last year's red tulips have come up yellow this May! Tulips of course do strange things: they " sport " and they " break." The breaking has been a standard mystery for several hundred years, but it is thought that an explanation has been found by the Mendelian research workers under Sir Daniel Hall's inspiration. The colour in the petals of the tulip (except the circle at the base) suddenly begins to run into streaks and veins and feathery patterns. This occurs even in yellows which do not seem to break in the eyes of the less scientific. The breaking is observable in leaf and stem as well as in flower. The species tulips are more or less exempt, and the cottage tulip is an easier victim than the Darwin. Some people scrap their broken tulips and go back to Lincolnshire (where this year's display has been magnificent) or to Holland for pure-coloured " breeders." But some of the loveliest pat- terns in any flower are found in the broken flowers, though they are apt to be a little shrunken in size and height from their former selves. The indications are that the breaking is caused by an invisible fungus or some such organism. If so, the malady has added much to the interest and craft of tulip- culture. The continual production of " breeders " is a delicate art in which Lincoln growers have begun to rival the Dutch with their hundreds of years of experience.