Tulips have the ability to be ‘kitsch’, minimalist, cottagey, formal, statuesque and fun.
There was (is) a romantic song entitled ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’ which has the line “When its spring again, I’ll bring again, tulips from Amsterdam”.
Possibly not the most famous or memorable of songs.
But having seen the acres of tulips growing in Holland at the age of eleven, I understood why my mother thought they were an essential addition to the spring flower garden.
A popular spring flowering bulb, there are different types of tulip to suit all situations and gardening styles. I’ve given you a Tulip outline below. But really, this blog is an excuse for lots of tulip photos, singly and in combination…
Tulips are divided into 15 types, based predominantly on the characteristics of their flowers.
Singles are perhaps the tulip in most people’s minds with a cup shaped flower. There are both early and late season varieties.
Darwin Hybrids have long lasting flowers. Good weather resistance too.
Parrots with feathery edged blooms. These showy Tulips are often depicted in Dutch still life floral paintings.
Fringed tulip flowers are similar to Parrot and may be mistaken one for the other if you don’t look closely.
Viridifolia has green hued flowers, sometimes looking like a stripe through the petal.
Lily flowered most closely resemble the species tulip in flower form.
Species Tulips – diminutive beauties that harken back to the original. There are many, not just one, species tulip.
Greigii are amongst the shortest varieties available and have mottled green and purple/ black foliage.
Kaufmanniana mostly have flowers which open wide like a star or water lily. Some have mottled or striped foliage
Combining Tulips with other Flowers in your Garden
A different technique that works well when you’re short on space is to plant them up a container with both types of flowering bulbs. They will then flower at different times, but in the same pot.
A pot of deep purple tulips in between pots of bright yellow daffodils is deliciously bracing. And when the daffodils go over, replace their pots with ones filled with pale pink tulips for a total change in mood.
I like to use the Parrot types in funky or kitsch designs, but they do also suit a more restrained setting. Plant them in a border with white flowered honesty or under a white lilac.
Kaufmanniana and species tulips are excellent choices for a rockery. Their short stems and smaller blooms are best appreciated close too. I love seeing them growing near acers, the Japanese maple.
This largely pictorial blog is being posted on the first May Bank Holiday. Three days in which to admire tulip flowers in your own garden and in other peoples’.
If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the National Collections of Tulipa, take advantage to see rare varieties. For example, the Botanic Garden at Cambridge University has a National Collection of species tulips.
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 Max Bygraves sang ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’. It was in the UK singles chart for 25 weeks in 1958, reaching a top Number 3 slot