A few more flowers in April

I showed a few tulips yesterday but here is another that is a bit unusual. ‘Red Dress’ is a triumph tulip variously described as a ‘Crown’ or ‘Coronet’ tulip. There seems to be several of these making their way into the trade and I can only assume that they are natural ‘sports’ (mutations) from standard varieties since their names refer to existing varieties in many cases – such as ‘Crown of Negrita’. With their ‘waisted’ flowers they are similar to lily-flowered tulips but the tepals are thick and incurved and I assume that they would have been rogued out and discarded in the past but are now seen as desirable!

‘Red Dress’ is certainly very attractive and rich red with a yellow base and is sweetly, if not incredibly strongly, fragrant. The foliage is slightly grey and overall it is a very nice tulip. It is flowering at about 40cm. Coronet tulips are supposed to remain in bloom for a long time. This may be because of the thick texture of the petals. Today is blowing up a gale so we will see,
The raised beds are allowing me to plant some old friends that need good drainage. Just starting to bloom is Pulsatilla vulgaris, the common Pasque flower. I have had this somewhere in the garden most of my life, first growing it as a teenager. It is native to England but I do not think it is native to Ireland though, with its preference for limestone, I would not be surprised if it grows in the the Burren (I don’t see any reference to this). It used to grow near my home in Peterborough, Cambs, at nearby Stamford, though I never saw it. It is a plant of short grassland and the large flowers are easy to recognise and followed by upright stems with feathery seedheads and then attractive carrot-like foliage. I have it near some bulbous iris which will also benefit from a sprinkling of lime now and then. There are posher species and many ‘improved’ forms with larger, brighter and ‘shredded’ petals (sepals) but I like the wild plant.

I planted a lot of chionodoxa in autumn but most seem to have disappeared and not come up (we do have lots of shrews and other rodents). But in the raised beds I planted the most expensive ones ‘Violet Beauty’ and these seem to have survived. I like chionodoxa and although they usually follow the blue/white/yellow theme of spring, I never tire of them. But I wanted this one because it was different and I am delighted with it. The flowers do fade a little as they age but they are distinctly ‘not blue’. Of course they are now scillas and not chionodoxa. And the foliage is of an earlier-flowering crocus.

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5 Comments on “A few more flowers in April”

  1. Mitzy Bricker
    April 5, 2022 at 3:39 pm #

    Such lovely flowers.

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia bluerockhorses.com

  2. Paddy Tobin
    April 5, 2022 at 9:43 pm #

    I hadn’t realised the pulsatillas prefer limey conditions and this explains why they don’t thrive with me. They don’t grow on The Burren either, despite the limestone there. I have found this Chionodoxa very slow to increase but a larger form – ‘PInk Giant’ is an excellent grower here.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 6, 2022 at 10:05 am #

      The slowness to increase could explain the cost. perhaps. Yes, I need to add ‘Pink Giant’. Something to shop for later in the summer.

      • Paddy Tobin
        April 6, 2022 at 11:24 am #

        I must go back to pulsatillas from seed.

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