Far from by design, a fortuitous placement of these lovely spring flowers in three distinct areas of my cutting garden has meant the differing conditions helped space my harvest. I deliberately grew both early and late double varieties which largely bloomed true to time. Verona with its lemon scent and pale yellow petals remains a favourite. Mixed colours also gave me further choice for my wild garden style floral designs.
While spring was early this year and the ranunculus and peonies seem to arrive ever earlier, I would defy anyone to say that double tulips are unable to stand their own in even that illustrious company. It has been useful to grow these blooms to arrange with. My experience is it is pretty impossible to make small arrangements as both their long stems and large heads cry out for height and space.
Carnaval De Nice has been a delightful surprise favourite this year with its supremely distinctive white and red painted petals. I arranged them with red heucheras and euphorbia and they looked like they came straight out of a Dutch oil painting (see picture below). It is most certainly on the list for next year.
Not all of my tulips bloomed into what I had ordered however which was a slight frustration, as I had attempted to order a coordinated colour palette so any tulip could go with any other. They stuck out like sore thumbs, but of course grew really robustly. Lesson learnt.
I grew more La Belle Epoque and made a spring floral crown with the blooms. I would of course purchase these lovelies again as their heads are robust, they flower for a very long time and they combine with other tulips and spring flowers really well.
I bought mixes of early and late double tulips which I would do again. Not only did they give me tulips from March to May, each multiple layered colourful head was like an early peony. They gave me colours that I loved that I would not have necessarily bought in the fist place, There was not one colour that I could not pair with something that was emerging in my spring cutting garden.
Carnaval De Nice has been a delightful surprise favourite this year.
Along with finds from the RHS show in Cardiff, I am sure I am far from alone in curating my lists for ordering later in the year.
- Malaika – a mixture of pink and orange which sounds an awful colour combination but looks stunning
- Monarch Parrot – frilly of course but the different shades of orange make you look twice
- Apricot Parrot – gorgeous gorgeous soft orange with green and paler peach petals although I found not so long lasting in the vase
- Black Parrot – just looks like velvet and excellent for a dark contrast with other spring brights
- Irene Parrot – I love the purple markings with the orange – a great one for adding to other spring purples like lilac or aquliegea
- Menton – really tall stems and late in the season with the most enormous head to look really amazing
- Arabian Mystery – really pretty 2 tone purple and white
- Albert Heijn – all shades of surgery pink
- Global Desire – white double that looks like a peony on a good strong stem
- Flaming Flag – white with flecks of purple that look like they have been painted on the petals
- Brownie – another amazing double in tones of orange and red
- Queen of the Night – a single deep dark purple
- Tacoma – palest lemon with a large double head
- Angelique – softest pink and white double with a gorgeous scent – missed growing her this year
I find myself drawn increasingly to the more unusual tulips, exotic looking even, the ones that would have been bought and sold for small fortunes in the past. Part of the reason is that it is these really unusual types that you simply are unable to buy anywhere else. In tulip growing for floristry in your own cutting garden, to my mind there is simply no point in my growing singles when these can be found in any supermarket. I want to grow and offer something unique in my canal-side cutting garden that also can be grown successfully in my clay soil. I applaud Smith and Munston who have responded to demand by growing some amazing varieties including beautiful doubles but I think there is still space for my locally grown doubles too.
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