Monday, 23 April 2012

This year's tulips

I love tulips.  For a while in my gardening life I struggled to create the effects that I wanted until I had the blinding realisation that the problem was that I was not using enough of them.  Isn't it wonderful when the right answer is the exciting answer?  Now I buy in bulk.  I plant new ones in pots, some new ones in the ground and, when I can get my act together, some of the ones which were in last year's pots into the ground too.  This is the  counsel of perfection as usual and doesn't always happen.  In the autumn of 2010 I remembered in time to get quite a lot into the cutting garden.  Last year I lifted all my bulbs, failed to label them, left them to die down and failed to remember that they were hiding in a big pot in the kitchen garden. When I came across them in November when I was planting out my new ones I found that most of them had rotted or been eaten.  Some did go into the cutting garden and into beds in the kitchen garden if they looked to have any signs of life but it was not a distinguished performance on my part.

Despite that 2012 is being a fab year for tulips.  I ordered from Peter Nyssen last year and will certainly do so again.  The choice was vast, the prices were good and the bulbs when they came were firm and fat.  Having envied mountainear's fabulous pots a couple of years ago I adopted the technique she recommended of planting bulbs in pots in layers, very close together.  This produces a sumptuous effect which I love.


These are Cape Cod (apricot/yellow) with National Velvet (dark red) and Sapporo (creamy white).  There are three pots like that and I love them.


These pots are a bit less successful I think.  These have Cape Cod again with Red Shine (the tall red) and Cairo ( the bronze one).  I am not convinced that the bronze is the right contrast with the apricot/yellow but that is one of the risks of planting mixed pots.  You never know exactly what you are getting until it all comes up.

Ian prefers the more subtle combinations of two dark colours or the pots of a single colour.


These are Abu Hassan (mahogany with yellow edge) and Hermitage (orange flushed deep red).  This seemed quite a chancy combination when I planted them up but it has proved to be a winner.  It might have been a clash too far but it works beautifully I think.


I love them against the lime washed white of the bakehouse.


Hermitage was a new discovery, as was Abu Hassan, and I shall definitely grow both them again.  I do understand the beauty of the single variety in a pot -  I must do, I planted them up - but I also love the explosion of colour that comes from mixing them up.


In the side garden and in the cutting garden Ballerina has been beautiful.  Sometimes I play the game of "If you could have only one tulip what would it be?" and the pure bolt of colour and elegant shape of Ballerina  would make it very high on my list.  But then I get lost in catalogues or websites and know that I could never choose.


Hermitage also looks good in the ground.  It is a much shorter tulip than Ballerina and needs a place where it will not be viewed in the same glance as the colours are close enough to work but only with a gentle buffer of emerging foliage such as this peony's.  I like the bluey green, slightly glaucous foliage.


These are going over now in the cutting garden.  They are Monsella and they came up for a second showing having been left in the ground.  My past experience is that many tulips don't flower again but the stony soil here seems to suit them better than when I gardened on soft loam.


And by the cherry tree tulipa linifolia is coming up.   There just isn't enough of it.  I love it so much that I shall continue to try to get it to naturalize.

How dull the world would be without tulips.

65 comments:

  1. How dull indeed! I love tulips too theya re so wonderfully in your face aren't they!
    HAH

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  2. Simply stunning. Love these photographs. Thank you for posting them.

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  3. What a super display. Next year you must do a Tulip Timelapse.

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    1. That's a great idea. I must have a go!

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  4. I am not a great tulip fan as I don't 'do' lots of pots and my ground is too wet. But the ones in the last photo, linifolia, could make me change my mind!

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    1. They are just perfect aren't they? And they go in the ground so you don't need pots!

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  5. Fabulous - I am inspired to do crazy tulip colours instead of tasteful whites. I think I have memories of sentry-like public park planting which wasn't my favourite.

    Tulips in the ground are doing well here - I've always believed that they were only good for a season but I,ve got some now in their 3rd year and better than ever.

    Something to aim for next year then. Always next year. Ever hopeful!

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    1. I love finding that tulips in the ground work! The best ones here are the little praestans but I also have some ballerina which have been going for about three years too!

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  6. Ahhhh, aren't they beautiful! Abu H is one of my faves and you have reminded me how lovely the Ballerina
    Variety is and I will def plant some this year. They are really cheering up these grey days we are having. They are never lovelier than planted in swathes I think, the more the better as pennies allow!Bx

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    1. I agree about the planting - either overflowing pots or rivers in the garden!

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  7. They are all delightful but the pots crammed full of tulips are just fantastic. I will keep an eye out for some bulbs as it may not be too late here.

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    1. Oh yes, it will be tulip planting time down under!

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  8. Gorgeous! What magnificent tulips!! My only tulips this year are in pots at the north facing front of the house and are only just showing buds. Oh to have a large garden, I'd have tulips everywhere!

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    1. Well tulips do like to live in pots, but I think they like sun too if you can find some!

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  9. So beautiful!!
    Tulips are the only thing that keeps me sane in April. They come up where I forgot they ever were, just as we are despairing of ever enjoying Spring. This Autumn I will try planting in layers - it seems that no matter what, I plant them the recommended spacing, and they look spotty and sparse around our garden. I love "Angelique", but it's a hybrid that dies off after a couple of years, and they're to expensive to use in the volume I would like. We have a neighbor who has probably a thousand outside their house right now - it's like the Netherlands!

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    1. Layering for pots and about four to five inches apart in the ground I think. Any further and they look a bit sparse as you say!

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  10. Ballerina would be my favourite if there was only one you could choose - not only for the colour, but her unbeatable fragrance. Most my Tulips, including Ballerina failed to perform this year, excepting Queen of the Night, who has been spectacular for about a month now!

    One of my favourite combos is Ballerina with the newly emerging purply leaves of Paeonies coming through.

    Yours look wonderful - rather taken with Cairo too.

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    1. Oh yes, I had forgotten to mention the fragrance of Ballerina! Cairo is a lovely thing by itself but the colour is rather muted and muddy so harder to mix with the clear, singing colour of many others!

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  11. Hi, thanks for looking into my blog and introducing yourself ... had a look and yours is so lovely, and full of things I love, especially tulips. Will be following now, I'm afraid! xx

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    1. No I am afraid about it - glad to meet you!

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  12. Your tulips are so beautiful! I haven't planted any for a while (since I got tulip fire in my Sarah Raven Venentian tulips). I love Mountainear's technique for layering in pots - I must try that one too.As for favourites I'd say 'Jan Reus' for its sumptuous colour but I'm falling more in love with the diminutive species tulips (Tulipa Hageri 'Little Beauty') which survived the tulip fire and are looking beautiful in my garden at the moment.

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  13. What a splendid colourful show Elizabeth - you have cracked it! I think that its their massed ranks that make them sing out. My few in pots are looking rather straggly and some had their heads snapped off last week in a violent hailstorm. Will have to investigate Peter Nyssen for replacements. Once it warms up your tulips should sparkle in today's promise of rare sunshine :)

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    1. They have looked fab today in the sunshine.

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  14. Gosh! I love your tulip colour combos. I must do this for next year... writing a note in my diary to get potting in the autumn.

    Celia

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    1. It is one of the things that makes the end of summer bearable to think about tulips!

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  15. I love the fiery shades of these and the shape. You must have green fingers, they look very happy tulips! x

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    1. Good bulbs I suspect! I haven't done much except plant them!

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  17. gosh you have a truly gorgeous tulip display, I have that catalogue on my desk at the moment, it is very tempting......
    thanks for your comment on my tulip post.

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    1. It is a lovely catalogue. go for it!

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  18. Elizabeth, you and your tulips have created a spectacular show! All those varied brilliant colors are dazzling against your green welsh hills.

    Best wishes.

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    1. I just love the orange Frances! Funny, once I would have said I didn't like orange but now I love the way it sings against the green.

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  19. What a beautiful show of tulips. I love purissima, a white tulip that is the only one that seems to a) like my soil and b) come back year after year with no loss of vigour. Might try some tulips in pots next year and will definitely take a look at Peter Nyssen. I've had a few problems with my bulb supplier in the last couple of years. It's always good to find a company that is recommended.

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    1. I really would recommend Peter Nyssen. Probably the best of the various ones I have tried. Now I feel I am doing free advertising for them. Maybe they will send me some tulips as a thank you!

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  20. Your tulips are quite wonderful and deserve you. My tulips are thin straggly, unhappy and don't deserve me at all. But they do their best - good little flowers. Haven't a clue what varieties they are.

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    1. Well one of the great things about tulips in pots is that they give you a fabulous show of colour in the first year just for being there and don't need any special care at all. Go on, grow some more!

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  21. They're BEAUTIFUL! And, I love it when the right answer is the exciting one! What a great thought to carry with us as we continue to look for answers...

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    1. yes, doesn't happen often enough does it? Maybe it is a mindset. From now on I shall look out for right, exciting answers!

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  22. A wonderful collection of tulips. I enjoy them too but can't be bothered with the lifting and replanting. Mine stay in the ground and so far, have had most of them come up again the next year. I know that's not how you do it and I also know that they are not supposed to come back, but mine do, for whatever reason. Occasionally, i buy a new lot, but I treat them no more kindly than the old lot.

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    1. Many of mine come back too. I think whether they do or not depends on how well drained your soil is. This theory could be quite wrong!

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  23. Wow, they look fabulous, they do look so much better in a large group together. Enjoy.

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    1. Today the wind and rain are battering them mercilessly. Sigh.

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  24. Gorgeous! I just have one question - what do you do with the leaves that come up the next year and don't bloom? I tried tulips once, and they were lovely - but none of them came back next season, just lots of lop-eared leaves. I am not able to spend gobs of money on flowers that won't rebloom, so now every year I look at the rabbit ears sticking out of the ground and sigh.

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  25. If they don't bloom again I put them on the compost heap!

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  26. I would never have thought of planting tulips in pots, and certainly not in layers, but then I'm not a gardener even if I have garden dreams. The effect is lucious!!

    Just sitting down now from making banana bread for the bridge club this afternoon (not mine) and realizing that I love baking, and that gardening would be an even bigger satisfaction. Well, except that I can't eat tulips.

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    1. I love baking too! All those female skills we turned our backs on in the 70s and 80s. I think this generation of women are much better at embracing all of this. I feel a blog coming on. One of the beauties of gardening of course is that you can't eat it!

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    2. Just read on Fennel and Fern that tulip petals are edible and taste pea like if added to salads ... so you can eat your tulips ladies :D

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  27. Gorgeous. I just love tulips but have never grown them. Must have a go one day. The frustration of having to wait a year, though...

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    1. Really easy to grow! You can spend the next few months looking at catalogues and dreaming.

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  28. I love tulips too - especially the way that they change from day to day. Wrote a blog about it if you're interested
    http://alittlesliceofeden.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/tulip-mania.html

    Love your scenery too. We will be back to Wales soon but never soon enough!

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  29. It seems that there is very little left to say except WOW and that I really love the combinations and i must get pots purely for tulips. When i put them straight in the ground they seem to get eaten! Joa

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  30. Sarah, coming to Wales is always a good idea!
    Pembrokeshire lass - it is much easier to grow tulips in pots than in the ground. Only problem in pots can be squirrels so on occasions I have put chicken wire over the top for the winter. In the ground the soil can be too rich and I think they rot, certainly in some soils they seem to disappear!

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  31. These are wonderful potfuls! I've so far avoided tulip bulbs, except for the species tulips that have been naturalizing over the past few years -- just find the fall too busy to allow me to do the required planting, but once I'm retired, look out! Mind you, the deer seem to appreciate tulips almost as much as I do, so that may be a problem.
    Next week, we'll be in Amsterdam, and I'm really hoping we manage to see the tulip fields in all their glory . . .

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    1. I love species tulips too! I have some linifolia and some sylvestris, but, as usual, not enough!

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  32. Gorgeous - I love mixing up the colours and I love those pots full of tulips. I'll definitely have to try that in the fall. It will be nice to have tulips in places where there are no beds.

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    1. I love tulips in pots in front of the house and cottage. They seem to last for ages!

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  33. Very impressive. Sigh. Your tulips are just gorgeous - I'm really going for them next year... though their year has not been bad, I just need more, more, more!

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    1. And this is it, you see. However many tulips you have, it is never enough. I wonder if there is an enough, somewhere, I just haven't got there yet!

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  34. Where I live, tulips are an invitation to deer. They think tulips are dinner! I don't try planting them anymore, because of the disappointment. But the daffodils and narcissi are not so delicious, so I enjoy them every year.

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    1. Oh how sad! Still daffodils are a big consolation.

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  35. What a blast of colour!

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  36. What beautiful displays! Must look up the site you use. I didn't realise you had to wait until the foilage dies off before lifting them. I've just dug them all up - will they be no good now for next year?

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