I didn’t plant as many tulips as usual last year. I had planted lots for cutting the previous autumn and hoped, and was right, that they would perform again this spring. So most of the new tulips were just for the containers and apart from my favourite tulip of all time (probably) ‘Ballerina’ which is yet to open, I went for a few ‘different’ tulips that were new to me. The best of these, so far, has been ‘La Belle Epoque’. It seems a bit pointless to try to describe the colour since I have these photos I took Thursday evening but it is variously described as peach, caramel, coffee, pink, orange and yellow and the flowers that are only barely opening do show all these colours. This is variously listed as a Double Early and a Double Late but I was suspicious of the latter since it is in flower now along with some pots of ‘Angelique’ which is a Double Early. A bit of searching has confirmed that it is a Double Early. I find that these are less good the second year than some other tulips but time will tell and I would like it to last. It was raised by Vertuco BV, a Dutch Cooperative of bulb growers and introduced in 2011 so a relatively new cultivar. The listed height is 30cm but so far mine seem a little shorter in these pots where I have them with some lilac hyacinths, brownish red uncinia, and pink and white pansies. I suppose the colour of the tulips is a bit tricky to match and I was thinking of brownish shades at first but opted for pinks and I think that actually emphasises the brownish shades well. Tulips are not often grown for their leaves and the foliage of this is not the main attraction but it is a nice grey green and it is nicely waved. There is a slight scent but not much at the moment but then it was a windy day. We will see how the flowers develop as they age. One of the fascinating aspects of tulips is how the flowers change shape as they develop. Single Earlies do not always age very gracefully and, I think, are at their best when at the half-open stage. At the moment this is not the cheapest tulip to buy but it would be nice to have enough to use as a cut flower – I think a bunch of these would be lovely. ‘La Belle Epoque’ is named after the period in French history from about 1870 to 1914 which was the ‘beautiful age’ or the ‘golden age’ when the arts flourished and the Eiffel Tower was built as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris which marked the Centennial of the French Revolution. By coincidence or design this tulip has similar colouring to the fabulous Fryers’ rose ‘Belle Epoque’ which, although not as commonly available now as it was about ten years ago when it was new, is a pretty rose.