Last autumn I didn’t plant many daffs, having had a couple of autumns planting hundreds. Instead I planted other bulbs including quite a few tulips. The garden had developed to the stage where I thought I would have enough well-drained areas to make tulips and other bulbs relatively cosy and not sitting in water. Although the bed has still to be edged this one, which is less awful than it looks at the moment, became home to the first Fritillaria imperialis I have planted in this garden. These amazing bulbs can be tricky in the garden, often flowering the first year but then dwindling away and never flowering again. There are lots of potential reasons for this but I wanted to be sure that poor drainage was not the culprit here. Of course, slugs moved in as soon as they appeared and I noticed ba@7?rd red lily beetle on the new shoots appearing through the soil the other day and lily beetle can attack frits too. Anyway, I chose ‘Helena’ which is a short and rather subtle crown imperial. I have no idea why I did this – the whole point of them is that they are brash and colourful! But ‘Helena’ is nice even though the flowers started to open as soon as the shoots appeared through the ground and made some hungry slugs delighted. Now the flowers have been hoisted higher they are not such an easy meal. The dusky leaves suit the flowers and I need to underplant with something subtle for next year – when I can be sure that the frits will have declined and won’t bloom!
Higher up the bed, among bronze Carex comans, Tulipa sylvestris is blooming. This has the most westerly natural distribution of any tulip, being native to Spain and Portugal, possibly France and then east to China. It is probably not native to the British Isles but has been naturalised there since the late 17century. I managed to naturalise it in the grass at the last job, where the soil was quite sandy. Perched high here, I hope it will be happy because I like the pure yellow flowers. They are nodding in bud and the outer tepals have recurved tips that add to the elegance of the flowers. The flower above is from a strong bulb and has four-merous flowers rather than the usual six tepals.
The crocus-like blooms of T. humilis ‘Persian Pearl’ are enjoying the recent sun and making an effort to open their dainty booms.
Other tulips are packed into pots and, while I don’t want to wish March away, I look forward to the flowers!