I am a big fan of tulips and I love them en masse and for the beauty of individual flowers. They are a bit of a luxury because, unlike daffodils, they are not always good the second year. But if you lift and store them you can usually get at least as many decent sized bulbs as you planted. Curiously, I have been surprised at how well some tulips have done in this garden. I expected any that were left in the ground to rot because of the wet, heavy soil, and some rotted the first year in one bed. But quite a few have come up a second or third year so perhaps I should have more confidence. I like most tulips and can never decide if I like bold colours or subtle shades best – tulips do both so well.
But what I do know is that I really admire tulips with variegated leaves. They make an impact in the garden as soon as the leaves unfurl and long after the flowers fade. I was a bit adventurous last autumn with my tulip buying so I have a few to show in the coming weeks.
‘Pretty Princess’ is a variegated sport of a pink sport of the fabulous ‘Princess Irene’ which has glorious greyish leaves and orange flowers. The variegation on this seems subtle but seems to extend into the flowers which should be interesting.
‘Verona Design’ is a variegated sport of the double cream ‘Verona’. The flowers are subtle and start rather greenish but become rich cream as they age – more clotted cream than whipping cream. They are packed with petals and look good enough to eat. But while the flowers may be subtle, the leaves are FAB.
They are bright green and striped with butter yellow. I have interplanted these in the pot with a double pink (‘Pink Star’) which should bloom in a few weeks and I hope to be dazzled by the bright pink flowers against the striped leaves.
Dazzled is how I feel when I look at Tulipa praestans ‘Bloemenlust’. It seems similar to ‘Unicum’ which I used to grow, but the variegated part of the leaves is less. The plant also seems very short compared to how I remember T. praestans and there are fewer flowers per bulb – it is always multi-headed. But the few flowers may be because the bulbs were small. The short stature may also be because of the cold weather, though many early tulips open their flowers almost as soon as they pop through the soil. Whatever, the effect of variegated foliage and bright scarlet flowers is dazzling. These should be perennial and are planted in the raised beds.