Tulip mania

cutting garden 4-22-10It’s easy to see why people have gone crazy for these flowers. One visitor this week commented with amazement in his voice about the variety of colors available in this one flower. It’s true – they come in almost every color – all but the truest of blues. In that way they’re a little like roses. But roses, when they’re healthy and happy, come back the same every year and for better or worse, we’re stuck with our choices. Tulips give us a built in excuse to be fickle because aside from the species tulips, most bulbs weaken over time and quit flowering. We try new ones every year and can’t keep up with the breeders’ variety.

This year we were lucky: they weren’t grazed by the deer. We sprayed almost weekly as soon as the leaves emerged with concoctions of “Oh no Deer Repellent”, “Deer-Off” and “Deer Stopper” – all commercially available and all a little stinky. (“Deer-Off” was the only one that smelled revolting to me and “Oh No” smelled deliciously like Big Red gum.) Not only did all the tulips bloom but they’ve almost all bloomed at once – that’s a rare sight since they’re bred not only for color, size and shape but bloom time. The late ones opened right along with the early ones this month and as luck would have it, they’re all hanging on despite rain squalls, wind and sun. Fingers crossed for the weekend and into next week…Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane' fully open

I have more favorites this year than I usually do. (That’s not true – I always have a long list.) In the Rose Garden I can’t help but love ‘Rococco’ and ‘Snow Parrot’ (shown in an earlier post) because they’re so over the top fancy-pants. But it’s little Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ that really takes my breath away.

Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane'

In the North Garden, I’m thrilled with the whole show. We chose ‘Amazone’, an orange with a green flare; ‘Jackpot’, the longest lasting tulip ever, based on last year’s trial in the cutting garden – I love how the white edge really makes it show up; and ‘Pimpernel’, a raspberry red lily flower. The whole garden glows.

North Garden tulips 4-22-10'Amazone', 'Pimpernel', 'Jackpot' in the North Garden

My faves in the Cutting Garden are ‘Viri Chic’, and ‘Green Wave’ even though it hasn’t opened yet. We’re all enjoying ‘Big Chief’ (shown in the foreground and at the visitor’s fingertips in the top picture). We had it in the Rose Garden last year and I think it is even bigger this year (same bulbs, replanted).

tulip 'Virichic'tulip 'China Town' and 'Green Wave' (right)

Do you have favorites this year? How often do you plant new tulips?

4 thoughts on “Tulip mania

  1. Can’t go wrong with T. clusianas. I appreciate that they naturalize, like daffodils. Life is to short to dig up bulbs in my garden.

    Susan, I’m with you – in my garden I just keep piling more on top of the old ones. It’s getting to be a weird mix though… If only I could stick to the Lady Janes… -kris

  2. Hey! You’re making me want to get into tulips. I think I’ve been put off by all the plain ole red & yellow ones, but HEY! that Virichic, Chinatown, and Green Wave are making me pant a little. Besides legacy tulips from a home owner past, this is the 2nd year for little Agway species tulips, which are happily spreading, and a small clump of “blue”-not-so blue parrot tulips, which look to have put up twice as many buds as last year. I can see a future of more tulip planting as years go on.

    Watch out, Lynn. It’s a slippery slope! (They keep coming up with more green ones – my favorite!) -kris

  3. p.s. how do you pick from year to year? Do you change it all or supplement with complementary colors? Do you have a wicked Tulip database going? Forgot to mention that it’s lovely to see the visitors in your pictures–really helps show what a special place it is.

    Lynn, We do a rotation because we pull the tulips out when they’re done blooming. The ones in the Rose and North Gardens will go into the cutting bed next fall and we’ll choose new for those gardens – and we are as powerless over catalog descriptions and pictures as anyone. We do try to get a succession of blooms in each garden – a failure this year since everything bloomed at once. But the visitors have been loving it (me too!) and last week it would have been tough to get a picture without someone in it! (Hope they don’t mind being made famous.) -kris

  4. I just was noticing a few areas which could benefit from some clumps of tulips. I did buy a bag of ‘Shirley’ tulips from a discount store. The bag was clearly labeled with the picture and everything. Shirley is white with a purple/lavender edge and I thought it would match, quite nicely, the stoloniferous phlox. These tulips are blooming now and are magenta and white mixed. They are pretty but definitely not ‘Shirley’. A case against discount stores and the best laid plans. Sounds like a post doesn’t it? I will have to post a picture of the disappointment. Glad you liked the Oh No Deer and we at The Garden Guys always recommend switching out the spray types so the deer don’t get used to the scent. Now I want Big Red gum or a hot ball.

    Too bad about your tulips, Layanee – our ‘Shirley’s came out right and you might think about trying ‘Synaeda Blue’ next year too… -kris

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