So I decided to give her (and my sisters) something that won't die for a long time. I expect they will get dusty and faded one day but that won't be for a while yet. I used some gorgeous Italian crepe paper which is easy to cut and then mould into shape. There are full instructions and a free template on Lia Griffiths' fabulous blog here.
I love the way real tulips start stiffly upright but once in their vase start to let themselves go - if you know what I mean! Mine are stiff and a bit unnatural at the moment but the wire stem means they can be bent into a more informal shape once in their vase. One of my most favourite scenes in a most favourite film is the conversation between Miss Eleanor Lavish (Judy Dench) and Miss Charlotte Bartlette (Maggie Smith) sitting in a wild flower meadow eating pears:
Charlotte: I find the cornflower the most delightful of flowers.
Eleanor: I prefer something bolder - the reckless rose, the tempestuous tulip.
Don't you think that perfectly describes the tulip's character?
Well wonder of wonders (and with a lot of hinting!) my son brought me a bunch of tempestuous pink tulips last night. They started letting themselves go within half an hour of putting them in water! Apparently the stem carries on growing once picked. However I saw a tip somewhere - if you stick a pin through the stem just under the head they will stand up again. I tried it once before and it works - my tulips are upright again.