Tiptoeing through the tulips

Well the rain did eventually stop and the sun came out. Admittedly the price for that was a slight frost but it did no harm. So I was happy with the change in the weather and so were the tulips.

This bed (one of a pair) is used, over winter, to grow on bulbs. I use it for annuals to please the bees, in summer. All the tulips in here were bulbs that were small offsets from those lifted last June when the beds and pots were emptied. I have to say that I have been very surprised that virtually all have flowered. Admittedly, some are a bit shorter than they might be and the flower size a bit variable, but they have surpassed my expectations. I gave the bed a feed with a high-potash fertiliser a month ago to build up the bulbs. I would have used fish, blood and bone but I can’t use that in ‘delicate’ areas because of the friendly fox who, for some reason, bit off a lot of the double tulip heads and played with them on the lawn. He is also the one who pulls out the labels. I blamed it on the rooks but they are not to blame.

New in the garden this year (though I have grown it before) is ‘Leo’. You can work out the derivation of the name because of those teeth around the petals, just like dandelion leaves (dentes de lion – lion’s teeth). Phew.

This is a sport of the old Darwin Hybrid ‘Oxford’ and, as such, is a quite vigorous plant. In a previous garden it was quite perennial in a sunny spot under a medlar.

These are in a pot for now, together with its yellow sport ‘Golden Leo’.

These have yet to open fully and I will show them fully open in a few days but they are exciting already.

In the raised beds, Tulipa saxatilis is flowering well in its second year. This is a stoloniferous species from Greece and Turkey that can spread far and wide and produce more leaves than flowers. It is synonymous with T. bakeri. There is a ‘form’ called ‘Lilac Wonder’ and I wonder if that is what I have, though it is by no means lilac. But then photos on the ‘net’ don’t show any hint of lilac either.

‘Lizzy’ a form of T. orphanidea, has brighter red flowers than the species but retains the rather starry flower shape and dusty black centres. It has increased slightly over the past year and looks like a keeper.

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6 Comments on “Tiptoeing through the tulips”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    April 16, 2023 at 8:07 am #

    You did very well to have the offsets flower for you. Most people would be happy if tulips flower for a second year and we are inclined to view them as annuals and dispose of the each year. Re Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’, it began with five bulbs here and now covers two small beds, a spread of 3 – 4 metres and it flowers very well each year.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 16, 2023 at 8:26 am #

      It always seems such a shame not to try to grow on the offsets but you do need an area to do it. But I was pleased that they performed so well. It is encouraging that your T saxatilis has done so well, though I can’t cope with a patch that big in the raised beds – but may allow me to experiment with it in other areas

  2. Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes
    April 16, 2023 at 9:34 am #

    A beautiful display!

  3. Meriel in Wicklow
    April 16, 2023 at 11:59 pm #

    You’ve a great display of bulbs. I’m tots jealous. I particularly am in love with Leo and Lizzy. Oh to have multitudes of tulips through the garden – the deer again, near the top of their menu! I manage a few pots on the patio only. A disaster was a bowl of Tulipa pulchella ‘Persian Pearl’ . They are a short cherry red which I was very taken with on the picture. However the wind and rain completely destroyed them. The petals shrivelled and any left were badly marked. Perhaps I should plant them in the gravel for next year?? And hope for better things.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 17, 2023 at 8:08 am #

      I am sorry about your deer. My mischievous fox is nothing in comparison. The weather was not good to the early tulips and their fully grown flowers had no chance to open and eventually gave up. I think the sun alone would have cheered me up but seeing the tulips enjoying the sun too is definitely a boost. Although some of my tulips were new last autumn, most are kept from the previous year so they don’t have to be a huge extravagance, though they are bit of work to lift, sort and clean and replant. I always get fed up at planting time but promise myself it is worth it, and it is.

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