Tulip Talk8th May 2015 • Stephanie's Blog • Stephanie Donaldson
It’s been a vintage year for tulips I’ve picked up some useful tips, ideas and new varieties
· Tulip bulbs may contain everything they need to grow and flower but in a dry spring like this one it is essential to water them if they are planted in containers; they will grow taller, stronger and flower for longer
· At Woolbeding garden to ensure the very best of displays, they grow every one of their 2000+ tulips in individual long tom pots and then plant them out when they are growing well – a policy of perfection, but worth emulating on a smaller scale if you have a special display
· I’ve long admired the pale apricot species tulips in the Barn Garden at Great Dixter and finally tracked them down last autumn; they are tulip batalinii ‘Apricot Jewel’ a variety that naturalises well in a sun baked spot; I’ve planted them in shallow troughs and look forward to many happy returns
· I visited the tulip festival at Pashley Manor and talked to the head gardener about how to look after my container grown tulips to get the best chance of them repeat flowering in future years if I plant them in the garden; his advice was to pick off the seedpods immediately after the petals have fallen and to liquid feed for 4-6 weeks
· Bloms Bulbs supply all the bulbs for the Pashley festival where they have a marquee with the tulips in vases and their names so that you can make a note of your favourites and even order them if you are feeling very organised; I couldn’t quite get my head around ordering next year’s tulips while this years are still in full bloom, but I loved Exotic Emperor and will certainly order it quite soon.
· Another tip from the Pashley Manor head gardener was that – contrary to received advice – tulips are best planted as soon as they arrive rather than stored in less than ideal conditions; their 25,000 bulbs are stored in a chiller by Bloms until the gardeners are ready to plant them – a service not available to the rest of us; if they must be stored net bags or open paper bags in a cool, dark, dry place is the best option