Together we stand

I am a tulip devotee. I see them as a reward for getting through winter. They are a celebration life.

My two raised beds filled with tulips

Each autumn I sit down with my JParkers catalogue and my Sarah Raven catalogue, and perhaps dip into the Avon Bulbs website too. I have two raised beds to play with.

A theme might start to emerge for each raised bed, and I might give each bed a name. This year, I came up with ‘Tutti Frutti’ for the bed to be filled with cherry and tangerine tulips, and ‘Flame Thrower’ for the bed to be filled with fiery reds, yellows and smoky plum.

I refine my plan, using Pinterest to look at colours and textures together.

In October, I choose a sunny day, and plant out the tulip bulbs into lovely crumbly compost and grit. Tulips like crumbly compost and grit.

Then I have to sit tight for five months. In January, I might notice just a little nub or two emerging from the compost. This will stretch and curl, and be joined by others. They will hold hands and dance, making patterns with their gorgeous glaucous blue-green foliage for the next two months. I will visit them every day in March to watch for the flower buds.

In April, they arrive.

Tulips ‘Abu Hassan’ (deep red edged with gold), ‘Paul Scherer’ (deep plum), ‘Princes Magriet’ (yellow with smoky peach feathering) and ‘Gavotte’ (deep red edged with lemon).

It takes time for a tulip arrangement to come together. I find that in the first week of flowering that it is not how it was in my head. Tulips emerge at different times. Varieties that I pictured together can be out of sync so that one is still green and the other fully open.

The tulips surprise me with their differing heights. Sometimes the colour is not exactly as I had pictured in my head.

I bought a couple of new varieties on the back of them being related to my tried-and-tested favourites. I love ‘Princes Irene’, which is apricot with smoky plum feathering. I decided this year to try her sister, ‘Princes Magriet’ which is more yellow, with fuzzy peach feathering.

Tulip ‘Princes Magriet’ with ‘Paul Scherer’ behind.

‘Slawa’ was my favourite tulip last year. I feel it is a slightly different colour this year. I know it changes as it ages; I remember it having more of a peach edging (and my photos confirm this in this post from last year).

This is one of the delights of gardening. Things are never the same twice. Different qualities emerge with different partners, in different lights, in different conditions. They are seen through different eyes.

Tulip ‘Slawa’. My favourite from last year.

Because I love ‘Slawa’ so, I tried its cousin, ‘Gavota’. ‘Gavota’ has the deep plum heart, but its edge is pale lemon. It is very handsome.

Tulip ‘Gavota’ (plum with lemon edge); ‘Princes Magriet’ in the foreground and ‘Avignon Parrot’ behind.

I always have a week of trying to identify a couple of rogue varieties, because my labels seem to rearrange themselves.

Tulips ‘Paul Scherer’ (dark plum), ‘Abu Hassan’ (deep red edged with gold) and ‘Gavota’ (deep red edged with lemon).

About two weeks in to flowering, I realise that they have done it.

The tulips have grown into themselves. They have grown together.

Tulip ‘Avignon Parrot’

They have surpassed my expectations.

Tulips 2020

They stand together. They are all different; they have their individual identities, their incredible colours and textures and forms.

Individually they are beautiful.

Tulip ‘Avignon Parrot’

But together they are spectacular.

Their colours and textures complement and contrast, adding depth and interest. They take up space around one another, dancing into new shapes. They shine brighter and more proudly, for being together in this.

From front to back: ‘Rasta Parrot’, ‘Roussillon’, ‘Orange Cassini’, ‘Attila’s Graffiti’

I can’t help seeing this as a metaphor. You know I love a garden metaphor.

Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’ , supported by ‘Paul Scherer’ and ‘Gavota’

This is the first time in my living memory when a whole globe has stood together. We are each standing firm for the collective good. Every single person has recognised their part in this. We have our own individual circumstances, but we all stand together.

Left to right: ‘Avignon Parrot’, ‘Paul Scherer’, ‘Gavota’ and ‘Abu Hassan’.

If we can do this for corona virus, imagine what else we can do together?

If we can slow down for corona virus, can we slow down more generally?

Can we be more observant? More connected to nature? More connected to one another?

Can we make sacrifices for the good of the planet?

Can we walk more, cycle more? Can we give way? Make eye-contact? Smile?

Can re-use the same resources, live with less stuff, take care of our clothes and possessions?

Can we grow more of our own food?

Can we share?

Can we be more kind, more thoughtful, more mindful?

If you would like to join The Mindful Gardener for musings and appreciation for nature, then consider clicking on the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page.

Feel free to share this post with your friends and family, or on social media.

Earlier in the week, I made my first video garden tour. You can see that here.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. carylbeach says:

    How amazing..and what a variety! I just have two flower pots with tulips and they are delighting me so much this year. Every year my tulips get eaten so I just planted a few in pots this year and kept them near the house. But your collection is something else. How wonderful 🙂

    1. That is a really good way to enjoy tulips. If you don’t have light soil, then pots and raised beds are the perfect solution.

  2. bcparkison says:

    Can we? Time will tell .Maybe we are in a dream. Some may even say a nightmare. But life goes on…until it doesn’t.
    I can only dream of having such beauty in my yard..What next?

    1. We are seeing such beautiful moments of kindness and care, and I am choosing to focus on these. Who would have thought so many people would collectively stay at home for five weeks, clap and clang pans for key workers, send food parcels to NHS staff, and countless other little acts that mean so much?

  3. Cathy says:

    That is a great analogy, Ali. This period has certainly demonstrated what can be done when we all stand together and, hopefully, how much pleasure can be obtained from slowing down and noticing the small things. And of course your tulips are stunning!

    1. Hi have found this really inspiring, Cathy. And people are really feeling the benefits of slowing down and connecting with nature. It has made more gardeners!

      1. Cathy says:

        And that is a good thing of course – the garden centres will do a roaring trade when they reopen, I am sure!

  4. What a stunning display of tulips, I only wish I had the garden space to do the same. Lovely thoughts too as we all stand together at this time.

    1. Thank you so much; sending love to you.

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