Spring La Belle Epoque tulips

Growing Tulips For Floristry – Varieties That Add Drama And Romance

In Fierce Cutting Garden, Fierce Influences by FiercebloomsLeave a Comment

WORDS: Kathryn Cronin PHOTOS: Ricky Bache
Iam looking at ice and snow outside and hoping my tulips are faring well. I confess I have a developed a weakness for tulips. Tulips I hear you cry? Really? Ah, but not for those single colour ones that you will have all seen in the shops, lovely though they are in the right setting. My growing obsession is with tulips like La Belle Epoque (that lovely apricot pink and coffee one – see the pictures above) that I grew for the first time last year. That same year I grew Angelique and, ahem, a few others.

I defy anyone to resist the multiple colours and shapes of those blousy tulip blooms that for all intense and purposes look like peonies. Tulips epitomise spring adding a natural drama and ethereal beauty. Choose your tulip varieties carefully and they will create wild garden style floral works of art.

I can promise you it was far from my intent initially but I have planted hundreds of these tulips, literally hundreds that I hope to see blooming this spring. They are in pots in the garden, in raised beds, quite honestly anywhere I could find a space to plant them. When I looked at the bulb catelogues, I just kept seeing varieties that I could not resist and it all got a bit of control. Of course, in my defence, there are quite a few varieties to choose from, she says in understatement.

Spring Floral Workshop at WildBunch

If I look back, it all started last year when I attended a spring workshop with Tammy from WildBunch. In all honesty, that’s when my tulip addiction really got going.

I was captivated by Tammy’s spring bouquets, seemingly effortless wild garden style hand ties full of spring tulips that gave movement and a memorising palette of colour. Of course, it is a bit tricker to achieve when you have a go yourself. It is all about practise but initially I believe it is all about inspiration, and I thank Tammy for that.

Tammy recently featured in Gardinesta where she describes her choice of tulip varieties. Definitely worth a read but if case you don’t get to it, Tammy’s favourite floristry tulips for growing include:

Sapporo, Ballade, Antraciet, Flaming Purrissim, Havarn, Charming Lady, La Belle Epoque, Elegant Lady, Up Rosar, Black Hero, Apricot Parrot, Peaches and cream, Montreaux and Carnival de Nice.

Wild Garden Style Tulip Bouquet Inspiration from Other Florists

Rachel Petheram of Catkin is also a wonderful source of inspiration. Rachel’s growing tulips for floristry list includes:

Exotic Emperor, Black Parrot, Rococo, the lily types Ballerina and Mariette, and of course the late doubles, including Angelique, La Belle Epoque, Black Hero and Mount Tacoma.

Green and Gorgeous wrote a very honest and insightful article on how her tulips grew last year. I know I was lucky to have such good blooms in my first year but it is colder up North.

Green and Gorgeous’ list for growing tulips for floristry includes:

Verona pale yellow, Blue Diamond, Angelique, Mount Tacoma, La Belle Epoque and Malaika.

Floret has also provided an excellent article on how best to grow these bulbs. Erin’s favourite tulips for growing for floristry are:

Charming Beauty, La Belle Epoque (no surprise there), Professor Rontgen, Salmon Parrot and Sensual Touch.

Growing Tulips For Floristry – Fierceblooms Recommendations

The tulips that I recommend growing for floristry are ones with soft vintage colours, and often with more than one colour. That way, other elements of the bouquet can be chosen to echo the myriad shades and colours seen in the star spring attraction. You need only include a few tulips in each design to achieve a romantic wild garden style look. I also go for big blousy blooms including many early and late doubles (like Angelique) as they provide a very viable alternative to peonies that are easier to produce earlier and over a longer time period in your cutting garden.

  • Brown Sugar – Burnt copper petals with a reddish apricot/blush pink. I have a lot of this variety as its colour looks fabulous with purples, plums, deep clarets and yellow
  • Verona – a soft cream fragrant double tulip – what’s not to like
  • Golden Apeldoorn – tall showey yellow – after all spring is the time when everyone loves yellow
  • Menton – a single tulip with rose pink to apricot colouring – very romantic
  • National Velvet – maroon tulip with a touch of purple and a yellow base
  • Sun Lover – a double yellow with red/orange markings
  • Attila – classic cup violet tulip which turns reddish purple
  • Irene Parrot – Curled twisted orange petals with a purple flecks – very dramatic
  • Jan Reus – a deep dark crimson
  • La Belle époque – apricot, pink and coffee – of course I have a few of these!
  • Malaika – pink with an apricot edge
  • Black Hero – a double deep dark maroon black that looks just like a peony
  • Garota – bicolour tulip of deep maroon edged in creamy yellow
  • Apricot Foxx – an apricot orange tulip whose petals are described as the colour of sunset
Choose your tulip varieties for growing for floristry carefully and they will create wild garden style floral works of art.

You will have noticed already that there is a fair amount of overlap between the tulip choices of the great and the good and mine. This is for one excellent reason. Each of these tulip varieties allows their grower to create a wild and slightly quirky look much in demand for romantic spring bridal bouquets and in colours that are simply not available through any wholesale source.

Here is where finding your local flower farmer (Flowers From The Farm) is an excellent starting point if you haven’t managed to grow your own La Belle Époque.

I would be confident in saying that La Belle Époque will be in demand again this year and anticipate it will be on the growers favourite list for a few years to come. One thing is for sure, I think have developed a tulip habit that I think will be impossible to stop.

Although I have listed quite a few tulips here, I’d be delighted to hear about what your favourite additions might be.

Read more from Fierceblooms on the floristry blog.

* for transparency Fierceblooms holds seedling membership of Flowers From The Farm.

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