The Tulips’ Final Fling

Why do I grow tulips?

Tulip ‘Christmas Marvel’

I don’t add up how much I spend, because I know it would make me blush.

Tulip blooms last three weeks, max.

Tulips ‘Antraciet’, ‘Dolls’ Minuet’ and ‘Black Parrot’

You can extend the flowering if you buy a mixture of early, mid and late-flowering varieties, but really you are looking at four to five weeks of flowering.

Tulip ‘Apricot Parrot’ with ‘Apricot Foxx’, ‘Slawa’ and ‘Margarita’ behind.

In my clay soil, tulip numbers start to dwindle and the blooms get smaller year on year, meaning that you have to be prepared to replenish them every couple of years.

Tulip ‘Antraciet’ in the early morning sun.

Is it all worth it?

Tulips ‘Slawa’ and ‘Margarita’, with ‘Apricot Parrot’ bottom left and ‘Princes Irene’ bottom right.

oh, YES!

Yes.

Tulip ‘Hot Pants’

I would rather have tulip bulbs for Christmas than any other gift.

Tulip ‘Jacuzzi’

From the planning, which starts in August, to the ordering in September, to the planting in November and December, to the anticipation, which builds and builds, from the first little beaks of foliage which poke out in January or February, to the little green buds that appear one day in March. Then this…

It is most definitely worth it.

Tulip ‘Louvre Orange’

It makes my heart sing.

Tulip ‘Blue Diamond’

It makes my soul sing.

Tulip ‘Black Parrot’

I visit my tulips in the morning before work, and in the evening after work. In the morning they are tight-lipped and touched with dew. In the evening they are wide open and buzzing with bees.

Tulip ‘Slawa’ inside

On a weekend, I start my morning with a cup of tea and a walk around the garden. The cuckoo and the woodpecker accompany me. I will inevitably pull a few weeds in my pyjamas. I will tear myself away to have breakfast and a shower, and then I will return to the garden.

Tulip ‘Ballerina’ with Euphorbia palustris, in the bright border.

There will be productiveness: pricking out seedlings in the greenhouse, potting on, planting out. This will be punctuated by visits to the tulips.

Self-seeded borage, getting in on the action. The only colour you cannot find in tulips is blue. Borage knew this, so he brought his blue to this bed.

In the afternoon, I might pull up my yoga mat to the tulips and open to the sun.

Or I might pull up a deckchair and read a book with them.

Tulips ‘Blue Diamond’ (foreground), ‘Paul Scherer’ (darkest maroon), ‘Jacuzzi’ (lilac-white), ‘Hot Pants’ (pink and white)

Inside each tulip is a mandala. There is a tricorn stigma and six stamens. The base of the tulip is often stained with a dramatic colour.

Tulip ‘Hot Pants’

There is often a different pattern inside the tulip, compared with the outside.

Another rogue tulip, variety unknown. I love a happy accident.

I invite various members of the family to admire the tulips. They indulge me.

Tulips ‘Apricot Parrot’ and ‘Margarita’

The sun moves around the garden. The front garden gets its turn.

I have two pots filled with Sarah Raven’s ‘Dutch Yard Collection’. The collection comprised ‘Caviar’ (rich, velvety purple), ‘Bastogne’ (red) and ‘Ridgedale’ (a diminutive faded cherry). Whilst I love the colour combination, I have been underwhelmed.


The tulips in my raised beds are beckoning me back.

Tulipa sylvestris growing under the Judas tree, with the raised beds of tulips beyond.

Even through the jelly-bean buds of the Judas tree.

Judas tree, in bud.

Now I have a dilemma. Do I leave all the tulips in my raised beds to perform next year? I have done this before, and grown summer annuals over the top with no problems.

Tulip ‘Christmas Marvel’ with a mystery white and purple ‘broken’ tulip, and ‘Apricot Foxx’ and ‘Slawa’ behind.

I know that the tulips will be slightly less spectacular in their second year. And I would like to try new colour combinations.

Tulip ‘Carnaval de Nice’ with ‘Antraciet’ and ‘Dolls’ Minuet’ behind.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Tulips ‘Apricot Parrot’ (foreground). ‘Louvre Orange’ and ‘Christmas Marvel’ behind. And Ruby and Zig.

Hold on to your hats for May Madness. There will be peonies aplenty, geraniums and geums, salvias and lupins. I have my first rose!

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You might be interested to read a guest post I have written about leadership. Even if you don’t read my post, do explore Angela Noel Lawson’s website, You Are Awesome. I find her writing refreshing, honest and inspirational.

62 Comments Add yours

  1. I never add up what I spend on plant material, just buy and plant — then compensate with peanut butter sandwiches for supper. Thank you for allowing me to tour your tulip garden before summer flowers take over. Lovely!!

    On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 9:25 PM The Mindful Gardener wrote:

    > Ali, The Mindful Gardener posted: ” Why do I grow tulips? Tulip ‘Christmas > Marvel’ I don’t add up how much I spend, because I know it would make me > blush. Tulip blooms last three weeks, max. Tulips ‘Antraciet’, ‘Dolls’ > Minuet’ and ‘Black Parrot’ You can extend the ” >

    1. Well, I love peanut butter sandwiches, so that’s the answer!

  2. Robyn Haynes says:

    Its not the cost of the plants that matters but what they give back.

    1. Which they do, in spades! (Ha ha)

  3. Jane Lurie says:

    Fabulous post, Ali, and vibrant, gorgeous photos. 🌷💐🥀

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh Ali what a fab blog.Ao enjoyed and loved all your Tulips.Never thought of putting tulips in raised beds but works well.I dont do yoga never tried.But could join and sit in your garden with a good book.

    1. Kathleen Spark says:

      Oh Ali what a fab blog .I so enjoyed all your tulips in raised beds really works well.I dont do yoga but could join and sit in your garden with a good book.Sorry above post forgot to add my email.

      1. Thank you, Kath, this is a lovely comment. You would be most welcome to draw up a deckchair.

  5. Cathy says:

    As I get close to saturation point with my special snowdrops perhaps I should go down the tulip route for my Christmas voucher from the Golfer instead… ps thanks as always for your consistently lovely writing 😊

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Cathy. Oh yes, definitely a good use of that Christmas voucher!

  6. bittster says:

    I think the tulips are what I enjoy most on your blog. I love all the color year round, and the roses are irresistible, but the tulips are my absolute favorites!
    More of them would be a very good thing 🙂

    1. They really set the gardening season off to a good start, don’t they? I think they do mark the most exuberant moment in the garden.

  7. I have loved everything about your tulip posts. Such vibrant beauty. I am looking forward to more of your beautiful gardens 💕🌻🐝

    1. I am really happy to read this, Lisa! The rate of growth is astonishing right now.

  8. susurrus says:

    I love your tulips (‘Apricot Parrot’ in particular, if I can assume from the name that I know which one it is), but the thing I feel a hint of envy about is your yoga pose. We used to call it the crab. I don’t think I could do that now – those were the days!

    1. Yes, it’s the pinky apricot one. I hadn’t practised that posture for a good while, but saw the wonderful Shelly Pruitt Johnson practising it, gloriously, on her blog https://shellypruittjohnson.wordpress.com/
      It reminded me how much I used to like the feeling of it, and so I started practising again. I was surprised at how my body remembered it! Muscle memory is amazing!

  9. Heyjude says:

    Are they worth it? Oh YES!
    I am impressed to see ‘La Belle Epoque’ hanging onto her head despite Hannah’s attempt to shake her to death! But she is the last of my tulips this year. Sad to see them go…

    1. Yes, I remember ‘La Belle Epoque’ taking her time last year, but being long-lived once she was out. It is such a brief moment with the tulips, isn’t it? I think it makes me appreciate them all the more.

  10. bcparkison says:

    Ahh! The entire area is just beautiful. Carry on!

    1. Thank you, Beverly, I will! X

  11. First, I love seeing your tulips and it’s definitely worth it, in my view, to keep replenishing the soil. I feel like there’s a metaphor for life in there.

    And again, thank you for your excellent post on leadership. You have touched many lives–my own mother’s included. Your kind words about my blog made my day.

    1. That is lovely to hear, Angela! I need to contact word press, as I still can’t leave a comment on your site (it says I’m blocked), but I’m away from a laptop this weekend. It has been really encouraging to read the comments on your site, and I am especially pleased your mum liked the post!

  12. So interesting. I have never heard the Redbud tree called a Judas tree.
    I can see how dearly you love your tulips. I do love them too and have a very poor display of them this year due to the neighborhood deer. I can’t afford to keep replacing them only to have them eaten, so I will have to be content with your gorgeous display. Enjoy every last one. They go so fast.

    1. I am really happy to do that, Cindy! Yes, I’m not sure why it got the name of ‘Judas Tree’ – something to google!

  13. Gorgeous, vibrant colors. We had a redbud that I only knew by the name of Judas tree when I was growing up. I hadn’t thought of it in a while, until I read your post. I like tulips but they are only starting to bloom here and now we are getting more snow! April is undependable!

    1. Gah! I think our risk of snow is over, but it has been unseasonably cold this April! Roll on May for consistent warmth!

  14. Rupali says:

    Extremely beautiful Alison. It’s a pleasure so see your garden.

  15. So. Many.Tulips!!!And all so gorgeous! I was indeed wondering what you did with the rasied beds after the flowers and foliage fades. Annuals sound good – veggies better…I really love the colour combos you created.

    1. Thank you Chris! I am glad you liked the colour combos! Yes, if I get fed up with tulips, we will most definitely turn this over to more veg growing! We can never have enough raised beds!

  16. Eliza Waters says:

    Be still, my heart! ❤ Your beds are absolutely gorgeous, Ali! Thanks so much for sharing them.

    1. Thank you Eliza, I am glad you enjoyed them.

  17. Wonderful and you’ve hightlighted some really lovely combinations that I am nicking!

    1. Oh good! Delighted they are considered nickable!

  18. Emma Cownie says:

    The ‘Apricot Parrot’ tulip reminds me of raspberry ripple ice-cream. Delicious.

  19. Fantastic and beautiful. Of course we are quite mad if we added up what we spend on tulips per day of flowering so best not to think about it. I discard all mine and buy new each year but not quite as many as you have. Yours look wonderful and long may you continue to plant them en masse like that. It is very very worth it. Just lovely.

    1. I am in good company, then Julie!

  20. Ann Mackay says:

    It is worth it – especially for the joy it brings! (And that’s not just to yourself.) And then there’s the health benefits of the gardening, being outdoors and the feelgood bit…so maybe they’re a necessity!! 🙂

  21. Cathy says:

    Oh yes, they are worth every penny and every minute of the work involved planting them! I see what you are thinking… maybe save some of the bulbs and replant in the garden beds and use the raised beds for new displays each year? Gorgeous photos as always Ali!

    1. Thanks Cathy! You read my mind.

  22. Ali, this was a delight to read. I love your wheel pose! So excited. I am drinking tea early in the morning here as I am reading your post, and I love to think of you sipping tea and walking around your garden, looking at your tulips.

    I have been adoring the tulips at my local arboretum where I walk. Pictures coming soon on a blog post.

    And I have to thank you, again, for the beauty and inspiration your blog brings to my life. I think I may have told you that before I went to grad school, I had a garden. And I loved it. I had one for three years. And then I got busy with grad school, and it fell by the way side. Well, I am having a garden again this summer. It is going to be small, but I will have it. And I will go out in the morning and sip my tea and look at it.

    1. This is so exciting! I must tell you too, I am enjoying a reinvigorated yoga practice! I am indulging myself in playful sequences, and am loving it. It feels like dancing, with yoga. I can’t wait to hear about your garden plans.

      1. Yay, Ali! That is so wonderful. Hey, by the way, if you would ever be interested, I would love to have you guest post on my blog about gardening. For instance, I would love it if you wanted to write about how gardening is a practice of self-love; or how it is a way you move and explore playfully; or how to get started gardening. It could be exactly like the posts you do now, and please feel free to use old pictures or parts of old blog posts or whatever. No pressure. But if you would like to, I would love it. And you could include any links you want–to your blog or otherwise!

      2. Shelly, I would be honoured. I am very drawn to the focus on self-love/self-care, as I don’t think I have ever written about that.

      3. Ali, I would love that so, so much! I am open to whenever you would like to do it. We can do it immediately, like this week, if you want to do that and have time. We can also wait until next week or the week after or later this summer or even fall. If you have time this Spring, I think that would be great, as it is the time people are thinking of doing gardens. Whatever works for you is good. I am delighted you want to do this. I think my readers will love reading your work and being introduced to your blog. I will also post about it on my FB and Instagram, so hopefully more folks find you.

      4. Hi Shelly, maybe next week or the week after?

      5. That sounds wonderful!

  23. I confess to being impressed by how long my Purissima lasted this year but I’m not sure their pale creaminess would exactly fit with your vibrant collection!!

    1. I do get very excited by the brights! I had a little flirtation with the more subtle tones last year, with ‘La Belle Epoque’ especially. I rather like ‘Angelique’ too. So many tulips to adore.

  24. Chloris says:

    My goodness, you do have some wonderful tulips and great combinations. I can see why you love them so.

    1. The variety of tulips is incredible. I could fill these beds ten times over!

  25. Jewels says:

    SO stunning Ai! ❤

  26. Michelle says:

    These tulips are magnificent! I always learn so much from your posts — there is so much variety in these different types of tulips! I think I too would pull up a chair and read beside them! Beautiful.

    1. That is so lovely to hear, thank you Michelle!

  27. Really beautiful Ali, and love the Yoga pose. A book and a deckchair surrounded by such beautiful colours sound​s a great idea too.

  28. They are definitely worth it! And I had no idea clay soil affects tulips like that… But I do love your idea with bulbs for presents 🙂

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