Tulip bed time story

Back about six weeks ago, when I thought it would be the last decent-weathered weekend, I planted my bulbs for next spring. I ordered bulbs about mid-summer, before there was a chance of them being out of stock. The added bonus was, they were paid for, well before they arrived.

I publish them here now, with “lifted” web photos because by spring I will have lost all record of what I purchased and have absolutely no recollection of what I’d purchased the summer before when I selected them.

2008 Tulip bed in front yard. Ignore the recycling out by the curb. The swath or “river” of grape hyacinths along the driveway does come back every year. I do try to keep the swath clear of bulbs.

Had no idea we’d have at least four more weekends when I could’ve planted them, but it’s over and done with. And the sore knees, legs & back from bending, stretching and kneeling are just starting to feel better now. I bought a fancy bulb hole digger and used that when I could add a couple bulbs in one hole. But there are so many perennials planted in this area, I had to work around and didn’t want to disturb too many roots with the bulb hole digger. So I used the “whack & wiggle” method with the garden trowel for most of them. So far, no trouble with squirrels digging them up. The only other natural predator, for this area beside the driveway, is the plow guy. He’s scrapped through this bed accidentally in the past.

I learned from reading garden blogs, especially Gardening While Intoxicated, that if you put yourself in the mindset that that tulips are annuals and treat them as such, you’ll be a much happier gardener. I believe that whole-heartedly.

2009. I hadn’t planted any new bulbs, hence there was less tulips and less color. Ignore the trash can non the curb. Can’t figure out why I always take pictures on trash pick up day. As an art director, you’d think I’d stage my photos better.

Previously I had planted bulbs and assumed they’d come back every year. Only the naturalizing ones come back. If any other tulips came back, they were less vigorous growers or wimpier in color or would get a good start and fizzle before there was much of a bloom. I am much more content planting all new bulbs every couple of years and also experimenting with some tulips I may not have ordinarily chosen, since they’re only temporary.

There’s a small chance of a big gardening magazine coming to shoot small-space spring bulb gardens and I wanted to load up the front tulip strip with good-sized flowers, and color with impact.

Here is what I planted this year:

Ostara Hyacinth – deep porcelain blue florets return annually for renewed beauty.

Estella Rijnveld Tulip – fringed petals combine bright white with flamingo red and touches of green open to 18 cm.

Toronto Tulip – pink flowers sport a tangerine-pink interior. Each bulb produces two stems with multiple blooms.

Spanish Pinkbells – naturalizers multiply easily in shade & every type of soil. Pink flowers are shaped like a broad bell with a flared rim. Each bulb will produce about 12-15 flowers.

Drumstick Allium

Donald Duck Tulip – yellow and red flower was introduced to honor the anniversary of Donald Duck. 12 cm blooms adorned with brown stripes and speckles. Great for naturalizing.

Azure Allium

Monsella Tulip – canary-yellow blooms open to dark red painterly streaks. Each bulb produces about three blooms that measure up to 15 cm.

Parrot King Tulip – Light yellow petals, yellow-orange edges offset by an emerald-green midrib. At full maturity, their emerald-green color disappears and a yellow-orange color spreads across the petals, now outlined in red.

Daffodil Rainbow of Colors
Daffodil Rainbow of Colors – As they bloom, the split cups appear yellow, transforming to pink orange as the flowers mature.

Don Quichotte Tulip – pink flowers.

Tom Pouce Tulip – flower colors are long lasting and short, sturdy stems make them ideal in windy or exposed locations.

Golden Parade (Sun Gold) Tulip – golden-yellow blooms.

Guinevere Tulip – pink blooms.

Red Dynasty Tulip (Red Impression) – signal-red blooms.

Halley’s Comet Tulip (Oxford Elite) – yellow blooms with flames of deep red.

And a few others:
Purissima – lustrous white blooms.

Towering Prism Tulip (Perestroika) – this enormous bulb – 14cm. or larger – produces a tall (over three feet tall!), chalice-shaped flower with a pink blush, fading into a yellow trim.

Golden Charm Tulip – pure white flowers with a yellow base surrounded by green basal leaves which form a rosette. Good for naturalizing.

Variegated Firespray Tulip – White-edged leaves add beauty after the flowers fade. Stem is topped with three to five bright red blooms, highlighted with a pale yellow base. Multiplies annually.

I think I’m going to like that Halley’s Comet tulip the best.

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “Tulip bed time story

  1. Jim, I have also planted, what I hope will be a river of muscari, in my Lime Walk. It is in front of a lond line of hydrangea. I do not have anything planted over top and find the foliage looks a bit ratty, much of the spring. What do you have planted on yours?


  2. I am envious of the climates where tulips can just go in the ground and perform well, even as annuals. It finally reached near freezing here early this morning. I can plant the waiting daffodil and hyacinth bulbs any time now.


  3. Your tulip bed is lovely and just bursting with color. This is a great time of year to revisit tulips in bloom. Thank you.


  4. It's going to look amazing in Spring. I'll be waiting for pictures. I make the mistake of planting bulbs too early and keep digging into them, I'm my bulbs worst enemy.


  5. I've planted tulips the last few years to get the bouquet colors I wanted. It's similar to thinking of them as annuals. But they tend to be more scattered than yours. Your tulip photos look lush and lovely. Mine look good close-up but no distance shots!


  6. I plant a lot of bulbs, but never tulips. Can't keep the squirrels away from them. Come spring, I'll come here to see yours. Donald Duck is the perfect name for that yellow/red tulip.


  7. Deborah,Right after the muscari have bloomed, there are iris just next to them that take your attention away from the ratty-looking muscari as the two huge hosta and rudbeckia start to grow over the muscari. There's also the chameleon plant. There's always that damned chameleon plant.Nell Jean,Wow. Someone's jealous of MY climate. I'm going to have to send out a press release.Hostabuff,Looking at past years tulips does beat the brown sticks coming out of the ground I have to look at now. Last winter, my goal was to post all winter long without showing snow. I think only two posts involved snow.Catherine,You plant too early? Wow. I'm impressed.Mrs. Wis,With my garden, the farther you are away from it the better it looks. From blocks away, it's perfect.Donna,Squirrels haven't been a problem much (in the front yard). There's all sorts of tricks to thwart the squirrels, but I've not yet had to bother with them.


  8. Interesting that you consider them annuals. I've always envied the fact that they come back every year for you northerners. I didn't realize that they start to suffer the second year. I cannot wait to see what your bed looks like in the spring, trash and recycling notwithstanding!


  9. That will be a great looking bed come this spring! I noticed while planting a few new tulips that all the old ones were gone~Squirrels or another rodent for sure! I think it's smart to consider them annuals! gail


  10. Great selection of tulips! This is the first year I plant them. Rocky soil and squirrels were the main reasons to stay away from them. Well, plus I am a bit lazy. But it's difficult to read all the beautiful blogs and continue to ignore bulbs. So, I have 60 bulbs waiting to be planted. Then, I'll turn to a squirrel chaser.


  11. Jean,Next year, no trash receptacles!Gail,Thanks. I'll be sure to post the photos this spring. Tatyana,I think the solution to the squirrel problem just may be in acquiring a taste for squirrel…


  12. FTR, my 3-year experience with Monsella is that they fizzle out. I'm with you – if spring bulbs don't come back happy the second year, they're history.(I'm back to blog reading and blog posting.)


  13. Swimray,Annuals, I tell, 'ya, they're just annuals.Welcome back to the blogging world. It's best when there's folks from the Southern Tier out there. So, do you think they'll dissolve Johnson City?


  14. JC will be dissolved in the near future. It was defeated by less than 100 votes in a referendum last year but will come up again and will pass. (It will always exist in my memory.)Thought you would enjoy my blog post on Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago.


  15. Beautiful selection of tulips there,How did they turn out in the end?Aanee xxxFlowers Dublin


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