Choosing Next Year’s Tulips5th May 2017 • General • Daniel Carruthers
Yes, I know that we are still enjoying this year’s show, but now is the time to make a note/take a photo of what has and hasn’t worked and adjust next autumn’s list accordingly. For example, like nearly everyone I know, I was seduced by the buff/soft grey shades of Belle Epoque, but other than the fact they harmonise rather nicely with the blockwork of the shed wall (not a priority), they really don’t go with the rest of the planting in the garden, so I will not be ordering them again. And as for their intensely-double, marmalade-coloured companions, I’m positive I didn’t order them – and won’t be rushing to identify them.
On the other hand, this is the second year that I have planted white and green ‘Exotic Emperor’ in the dolly tubs either side of the front door for an early display and they have been a huge success and will definitely be on the list again. They die attractively too, so they don’t detract from the shocking-pink ‘Barcelona’ that follow on later.
An accidental combination has provided me with the main inspiration for next year’s pots. Each autumn, any decent size bulbs that I’ve saved from the previous spring’s pots get planted in the garden. Theoretically, the orange shades – especially ‘Ballerina’ – go in the woodland area where they look fab amongst the camassias, while the pinks and purples go in the borders. Inevitably things get muddled and this year’s star muddle is the combination of shocking pink, orange and clear-red that popped up in one of the borders. I’m considering adding a few near-black singles and doubles as well for maximum va va voom – no wonder I find ‘Belle Epoque’ too low key!
As well as ‘Ballerina’ any of the viridiflora will naturalise well – ‘Spring Green’ is the best known, but I also like its show-off relative ‘Flaming Spring Green’ and have just discovered ‘China Pink’ which I will plant again – but not amongst the oranges – even I have my limits!
Finally, dotted around the garden I have several small shallow troughs and pots where I grow species tulips – Apricot Jewel is my favourite – their smaller scale works well on ledges and table tops where they can be closely admired. When they have finished flowering I leave tuck them out of sight and leave them to die back until they reappear next spring.
Time to start writing my list!