I have been meaning to join the ranks of bloggers rhapsodizing about tulips for several weeks, but somehow never quite manage to get around to it. Now that the first of them are starting to strew their petals around like confetti, it felt appropriate to celebrate the good – and shudder at the bad. I am well aware that the notion of a “bad” tulip is deeply subjective, we all have different feelings about frilly or not frilly, bright or subtle, single colour or mixed. But I am moderately confident that most will agree that some of the random combinations I seem to have been gifted with this year are not what one would call aesthetically pleasing! But let me start with the first, my small collection of species tulips, planted under the purple hazel in my back garden.
Tulipa orphanidea Whittallii Group, beautiful in shades of orange.
So graceful, whether open or closed, and a lovely contrast to the purple hazel foliage that she appears at the same time as. She didn’t increase, so I wonder if she gets enough sun here, in a west facing border. I hope so.
In the front garden I planted a collection of tulips from Peter Nyssen, hoping that the colours would complement one another and the folaige of the nearby Hebe ‘Red Edge’. I chose ‘Attila’. ‘Combat’ and ‘Havran’, and apart from wishing I had planted them in three clumps rather than a slightly awkward looking two, I have been delighted with them.
The backdrop of forget-me-nots doesn’t hurt either, and I plan to add to these come Autumn.
I am less happy with some of the other tulips than have been popping up in random places all over the front garden. I spent quite some time last year digging out bright yellow and red tulips, forgetting that I would probably miss little bulbils that would develop into proper bulbs that would wreak revenge on me for the untimely death of their brothers and sisters. I don’t actually mind them per se, though I prefer the red ones alone, particularly when they have the good taste to pop up in the middle of the forget-me-nots. Some of the markings on the yellow ones are really rather beautiful.
I don’t even mind the occasionaly pink, slightly frilly tulip popping up, at least in abstract. I got over my total aversion to all things pink in the garden years ago, even soft baby-doll pink. In its place.
I do mind the lone white and red tulip though, I can’t actually imagine circumstances in which I would be happy to see this in my garden.
Most of all though I wish they hadn’t all popped up together. In the middle of my front garden. Almost OK – yellow is a happy colour, after all – but only almost.
In the back garden, apart from the species tulips around the hazel – and the accidental planting of some ‘Burgundy’ lily-flowered tulips in the back border in place of the daffodils I intended to put there – I have stuck to pots. I only have those because I bought some in a sale from Sarah Raven, and they didn’t get planted until mid January. One set of three pots has a mix of ‘Prinses Irene’, ‘Havran’ and ‘Coleur Cardinal’. This is the Venetian Tulip collection, and it works beautifully, not least because the gorgeous dark streaks on ‘Prinses Irene’ pick up the deep red of ‘Coleur Cardinal’.
I also planted a pair of pots with the ‘Bold and Beautiful’ tulip mix, again from Sarah Raven. A combination of the deep orange scented ‘Ballerina’ (my all-time favourite tulip) and the deep magenta pink of ‘Doll’s Minuet’, they were to stand either side of the entrance of the aluminium greenhouse. Then we had to move the greenhouse, and then the tulips came up.
Clearly a bit of a labelling issue, as instead of the fragrant orange of ‘Ballerina’ I got more pale pink.
Still, overall I am still declaring this a good year for tulips, even if I remain a tad unconvinced by ‘Doll’s Minuet’. Which is funny because it is a tulip I have coveted for years now. The ‘Bold and Brilliant’ tulips will be planted out in the park border this autumn, the hodge podge of tulips in the front garden will be dug up, dried off and offered to fil for his border, assuming I can bear to let them die down, and I will chalk the misbehaving pots down to experience. But I did manage to cut some of the pink ones and put them, together with the odd pale pink tulips from the front garden and the misplaced but beautiful ‘burgundy’ tulips in the back garden, in a vase. Because it’s Monday. And because I keep telling Cathy@Rambling in the Garden that I will join in with her challenge to pick flowers for a vase each week and never do.
Slightly lopsided, and just in a plain glass jug, with some Griselinia foliage for contrast.
A little does of spring on my mantelpiece. Do pop over to Cathy’s blog and check out the other flower arrangements being celebrated and discussed there. And enjoy your tulips, if you have them. They are almost over now…