By Bejay Browne
HUNDREDS of tulip lovers will descend on Polemi village in Paphos on Sunday for the annual celebration of the flower.
The village is awash with colour as the tulips grow in a field full of wild flowers.
These wild tulips have been growing in the area for centuries, according to local experts, and the tulips, that first blossom at the beginning of March, and are now in full bloom. A festival celebrating the flower started in the early 1990s but then petered out. It was revived in 2002.
“Wild tulips have an advantage over hybrids, such as those found in Holland, as they are hardier and not as susceptible. Tulips in Cyprus have been here for at least two centuries on record. It’s a misconception that they were bought over by the Turks. At the mosaics in Paphos there is a huge floor which is painted with tulips and this was built by the Romans. It’s more probable that they may have been brought here by Alexander the Great as they are endemic in Asia and Persia,” president of the association of Tulip Friends Antonis Nicandrou said.
After the 2013 festival was cancelled due to the crisis and last year’s event was a somewhat muted affair, organisers are hoping Sunday will be a more vibrant occasion.
The village is set in the Paphos hills at an altitude of 450m, 3km east of Stroumbi. It can be accessed off the main B7 Paphos to Polis road.
Polemi is the only area on the island where such wild tulips grow and Nicandrou said they are originally from France and are found all over the southern Mediterranean and other areas such as Israel.
“Apart from a few which were discovered in the Troodos region a few years ago, which were probably grown from bulbs taken from Polemi, the plateau between the villages of Stroumbi and Polemi is the only area where these tulips are found in Cyprus,” he said.
There are also two other species the of tulip in Cyprus, one found in Tymbou and a sub species of that found in the Akamas region, of which there are very few, and we guard with our lives, he added.
The wild tulips used to grow almost everywhere in Polemi but due to a wider use of pesticides the stunning flowers are diminishing in numbers.
This is something Nicandrou and others are attempting to halt. The volunteers are in desperate need of resources, and lack funding to make any real changes, he said.
“It used to be vineyards so they were protected, but now they have been dug up and wheat planted and now it’s sprayed with pesticides. The tulips used to be abundant. The current tulip field is about three acres, in the past, tulips covered the entire valley but have been wiped out by pesticides, and we are trying to stop this.”
However, approaches to the relevant government departments have so far fallen on deaf ears and Nicandrou said the volunteers have failed to secure any money at all.
“We need to have some sort of funding to protect these flowers and to encourage them to grow. We would also like to have a website, but this all costs money.” However, a dedicated Facebook page is currently being created.
The tulip lover said that a field has very kindly been donated by a villager for the last 20 or so years, which is where the tulips are currently blooming. “People need to give them a chance and the entire valley could be covered again,” he said.
This year’s event will include a troupe of dancers presenting a traditional programme and a surprise guest appearance by a well-known and popular Cypriot Folk singer.
The event gets underway at around 11.30 am and the programme will last for around an hour and a half. People will then walk to the field of tulips and Nicandrou will be on hand to answer any questions.
Polemi Tulip Festival
Sunday March 29. Starting at 11.30am at the Metochi Cultural Centre in the centre of the village. For further information: – Polemi community council – 26 632736