By Sarah Wilson
Recently there have been more species of tulip available and many gardeners are now converted to the “trouble free tulips ” and look forward to having tulips flowering in their gardens from March to May.
The old fashioned tulip gardener bought and planted new tulips every November, they flowered in May and were then dug up, thrown away and replaced in the border with summer bedding plants or late flowering dahlias. These tulips were often very bright colours – reds and oranges and might have double or frilled petals – very exotic. Such displays can still be seen at Dunsborough Park (near Ripley) and at Pashley Manor (in Sussex). The ordinary gardener could not really compete with these large scale and colourful displays.
Instead you can enjoy tulips without all the bother – for early spring plant some small species tulips. These originate from the wild tulips, which flower all over Greece, Turkey and Crete in early spring.
They are short and have star like flowers so are not prone to wind damage and grow and multiply in any fairly well drained, sunny spot. Over the years they will spread and form a beautiful field of colour. The best ones – which grow well in my garden, are
Tulipa humilis ‘Persian Pearl’ – flowering in March with deep cerise and yellow marked flowers and
Tulip tarda with star like yellow flowers in April and May. These are listed in bulb catalogues as “Species” or “Botanical” tulips.
There are also some species of the taller tulips that are now considered as “perennial” tulips as they not only flower year after year but also increase the clump size each year. The best of these are Tulipa Groenland, Spring Green, Artist, China Pink and Negrita – all shades of green, pink, purple and orange.
These need to be planted in free draining soil and out of the way from deer or rabbits who can bite off the flowers before they unfurl.
Tulips have an interesting history, with the Dutch paying thousands of pounds for a single bulb in the 1620s at the height of “Tulip mania”. You can read more about this in Anna Pavord’s famous book “The Tulip “. Today bulbs are really quite cheap, especially if you buy in bulk – so this November plant some of these trouble free tulips and you will have lots of colour in your garden for years to come.
Don’t forget that Shieling is open for the National Gardens Scheme (Yellow Book) on Monday May 2 and from 2pm to 4pm. Do drop round – there will be a plant sale and homemade tea and cakes.
Dr Sarah Wilson, a long time resident in The Warren, regularly opens her garden in the summer months with the National Garden Scheme. This year her open garden dates are Monday 2nd May 2-4pm, Saturday 11th June – 6-8pm and Sunday 12th June 2-4pm.
To contact Sarah please click here