Istanbul in full bloom

At the risk of redundancy, I must share more of my floral enthusiasm. Last Sunday some friends and I walked up to Emirgan Park (my third trip), and we were totally WOWED by the displays. Tulipmania abounds in Istanbul.

After a two-hour walk along the Bosphorus (with a welcome stop for tea and treats), we wended our way through the tea gardens of Emirgan up to the south end of the park. Coming in the side entrance wasn’t all that spectacular, but it made for a much more gradual hike up to the summit. After passing well-peopled playgrounds and picnic areas, we found the tulips. Tulips, tulips, tulips.


They were everywhere, hillside after hillside planted in spectacular arrangements—blossoms of every shape and hue. Gorgeous! Music drew us up even higher—live music. Hooray! Much to our amazement, we emerged on a huge plaza replete with 7-foot tulip sculptures, each painted a unique design by its own Turkish artist. Too fun!




As we wandered through the tulip forest, Libby was deluged by admirers. Children were mesmerized by her, each tentatively reaching to pet her soft fur. Few Turkish people have indoor pets, though street dogs and cats are well cared for by the country’s many animal lovers. Consequently most children find dogs both frightening and fascinating. It wasn’t long before Libby and I were surrounded by children (and their parents), all asking her name, whether she bites, how old she is, etc., etc., etc. At one point Libby looked a bit panicked, but she managed to maintain her company manners. (She loves children.)


One little girl shadowed us for nearly a half hour. Four-year-old Elif was quite taken with Libby, and her father explained to me that his wife is “very clean and doesn’t want a pet in the house.” He and his daughter obviously love animals, and it was clear that Libby was the highlight of Elif’s park visit. (My Turkish has improved to the point that I can actually carry on a limited conversation. Surprise.)



We sat to listen to the music, soft Turkish rock. The sun beamed down as children played, adults sipped tea, and we all reveled in the magic of this lovely afternoon. It continues to strike me how very much people are alike across the globe—this could have been anywhere.



The drawback of having Libby with us was that we couldn’t sit in one of the park’s shaded outdoor restaurants to indulge in French fries—no dogs allowed. Hmphhhh! Oh, well. We walked down to another music venue and found another snack line. Unfortunately, it was about a mile long. We opted for cheese gözleme (like crepes or lefse fried with cheese inside) from vendors outside the park.


Trees, too, are in bloom, both in the park and on campus. I don’t have the names of all of them, but everyone’s favorite is the Joshua tree, with branches clad in brilliant pink blossoms. There’s also a tree with pale pink carnation-like blossoms, and another with elegant blooms whose fuschia petals reach skyward like fingers, revealing their light-colored insides. I have no idea what it is, but it’s gorgeous.


On campus we have a lavender-blossomed tree called a Pavlovya tree. (Definitely a tree to salivate over.) Last but not least is the wisteria, which is in its full glory this week—huge purple clusters that look a bit like grapes drooping across entrances and draping from trees.

Flowers, flowers, everywhere—Istanbul is in its full glory!

4 thoughts on “Istanbul in full bloom

  1. Hey there…

    me again! You take more pictures of plants then even I do lately. Well, on the last picture you have a variety of Magnolia liliifora ‘Susan’ (I guess).

    If you are ever in nothern Italy or southern Switzerland don´t miss the Lago Maggiore in any case but especially not around easter and the Parko Botanico ( A great old gardener put the worlds biggest collection of magnolias on display… your life will be changed after you have been into a forest of magnolia flowers of all shapes and sizes and colors.

    It is still very cold in Germany. I cannot wait tulips to “break” out here. :))


  2. Turns out the giant tulip statues are scattered around the city. I came across several in Taksim this weekend as well. What fun. Much more interesting here then the cows were.

  3. I live in a village outside Fethiye and discovered your blog via Jake Dolson’s blog in Adana. I lived and taught in Istanbul 1969-72, had friends then at Robert College and love reading your posts (so nostalgic for me) and seeing the beautiful photographs. Am looking forward to acquiring your book and doing the walks when I visit Istanbul.

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