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Awash with colour once a year: Polemi tulip festival

Polemi tulip field

POLEMI village in Paphos is busy preparing for its annual tulip festival next month when hundreds of visitors are expected to come and have a look at the mass of wild blooms for which the village is famous.

The festival has been held every year since 2002, apart from 2013 when it was cancelled due to the economic crisis.

This year’s festival on April 3 is expected to attract hundreds of people with the event growing in popularity every year, according to president of the association of Tulip Friends, Antonis Nicandrou.

“We had close to one thousand visitors last year and we have managed to secure a small amount of government funding through the help of Paphos MP, Antonis Antonou,” he said.

Nicandrou said that 3,000 euros in government funding had already been allocated and used to fence in the famous tulip field to help protect it from some people who were picking the flowers.

Nicandrou said that the wild tulips always bloom in the last week of March and the first week of April, when the village will be awash with colour.

“Wild tulips in Cyprus have been here for at least two centuries on record and apart from a few discovered in the Troodos a few years ago, the plateau between the villages of Stroumbi and Polemi, is the only area where these tulips are found in Cyprus. Polemi is the only area on the island where they grow in any sort of numbers,” said Nicandrou.

There are also two other species of tulip in Cyprus, one found in Tymbou and a sub species of that found in the Akamas region, but these are very few.

The wild tulips used to grow almost everywhere in Polemi, reaching from the tulip field all the way down to the petrol station on the main Polis road, he said. However, due to regular use of pesticides the stunning flowers are diminishing in numbers.

“They are being wiped out by weed killers, as vineyards and orchards are uprooted, they are now suffering. They used to offer them some protection.”

The tulips are originally from France and are found all over the southern Mediterranean and other areas such as Israel.

Nicandrou said the village was hoping for further funding to help initiate a programme to further protect and preserve the tulips.

“This would involve purchasing a field, taking some bulbs to the field and planting by hand and then, as tulips are not self-pollinating, we would have to help the process along.”

He said that research needs to be done by the ministry of agriculture to find out what is the vector, (pollinator) in the pollination of these tulips.

“We know that it’s not bees,” he said. “We could pollinate them ourselves by hand, but this would be time consuming.”

He dismissed a third option, as ‘space age and costly’ which involves cloning the tulips. “These are wild tulips and it’s better to maintain this gene pool,” he said.

The president of the tulip association said that a programme would cost around 10,000 euros.

This year’s event will be held on Sunday, April 3 at 11am at the Metochi Cultural Centre in the centre of the village. It will include free wine, traditional Cyprus sweets and a dancing and singing programme performed by local school children. The two tavernas in the village will be open for lunch. After the cultural programme, visitors will be able to walk to the field and divided into groups with experts available to provide background information.

Polemi 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 Tulip Festival, Sunday April 3, 2016, starting at 11am at the Metochi Cultural Centre. For further information, call Polemi community council,  26 632736

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