Thursday, September 27, 2007

Operation tulip 2008

Bulbs are creating all the excitement for me right now, even though most have not arrived and won’t until mid-October. (I did receive 20 galanthus to be planted “immediately”—yikes, how long have I had them?!)

I get a huge kick out of changing hybrid tulips every year. Hell, even some of my species tulips are erratic repeaters, so I’ve also chosen about 35 of those to plant this fall.


For the hybrid tulips, I’ll be combining Menton and Queen of the Night in two front raised beds, which later will be planted with some kind of tall tropical, surrounded by other annuals. (That’s just the way it’s got to be; these cramped easeway beds are no place for perennials.) Queen of the Night is a tall, stately Single Late that has been a favorite of many gardeners for years. Previously, I’ve combined it with White Triumphator, a lily-flowered variety. One year I had it with West Point, a yellow lily-flowered type. I haven’t used it in at least three years.

Queen of the Night makes almost any color you put with it stand out. Menton, another Single Late, might not be as venerable—oh, let me get my book. Ah yes, Menton is 1971; Queen of the Night is unknown, but could be turn-of-the-century. I know that’s not old for tulips, but for these type of hybrids, where new ones are always being introduced, it’s respectably vintage. Anyway, Tulipa (great book) does not say much about Menton, but about Queen of the Night, it comments “one of the first nearly black tulips to come on the market … continues to hold a valuable place.”


In containers and in the front “yard” I will be planting tight groups of two Triumph varieties, Wildhof and Negrita (c. 1970s). I wanted Wendy Love but Scheepers didn’t get a good crop or whatever and I had to substitute, so I went for the light/dark contrast. These are great for forcing so I’ll probably try that as well. That would mean I’ll have a few indoor tulips in February, which will be fun.

Now, these are supposed to bloom at different times, with the Triumphs earlier, but we’ll just see about that. Last spring they all came out at once, in May. So there you go.

I have great respect and admiration for these flowers, and I think that may be because I’ve been exploring them in all their variations, without depending on them as perennials. Familiarity would surely lead to contempt in such a case. The parrots and viridifloras are also beautiful and great fun. I’ve not done much with fringed, but would like to. Tulipa, can, I am sure, be ordered from Amazon; the photography is incomparable and there is plenty of information, not enough for the hardcore geek, to be sure, but a respectable overview for the non-scholar.

Tulip talk continues in the next post. It was inspired by Susan's tulip post over at beyondsustainablegardening.com. Are you planting tulips this fall? Which are you planting?

4 comments:

jodi said...

MMMMMMM, love tulips too, Elizabeth. I'm going to be planting some parrots and viridifloras (Apricot and Flaming Parrot, for sure, and probably Greenland and Flaming Spring Green); otherwise, a host of singles and doubles in shades of deep purple, orange, and hot carmine; I like the bright jewel-box colours rather than pastels in spring. Plus if I can find them I'll add some more species tulips as I'm quite partial to these little gems; they come back reliably and while they aren't as showy, they work well in a rock garden setting.
And then there are the galanthus, alliums, muscari, fritillaria....
Bulbs are such bliss.

Carol said...

I'm going to plant a few dozen tulips this fall, but I also treat them as annuals, so I don't invest a lot in them. I just get whatever strikes my fancy at the garden center.

But I just placed a big order for some minor bulbs that I'm kind of excited about!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Layanee said...

Who doesn't love tulips? I'm going to try some species tulips this fall, T. clusiana 'Lady Jane', T. hum. alba coerulea oculata, and T. 'Little Beauty' along with a single late tulip T. Avignon. I'm with Jodi concerning the bright colors and yellow tires easily in spring!

lisa said...

As Hank/County Clerk has expressed, I am a fanatic, no-addict when it comes to bulbs! Tulips, daffs, muscari, all of them! This year I went paricularly over board, and will be planting tulips in four combos; reds, purples, whites, and pink/yellows. I'm trying to coordinate bloom times for each combo, using a mix of parrots, singles (incl. Queen of the Night), peony-flowering, fringed, lily-flowering, and daffs. Plus several muscari, some Glory of the Snow (chionodoxa), and foxtail lilies. Oh, and dwarf iris too...heh..."carried away", indeed!