Buffalo Garden Great Plant

How I tulip

I get asked how we get such good looking tulips in our front yard.

I get asked a lot about how to get such good looking tulips in our front yard.

The most common question is, “Do you take them out and store them after they’re done blooming?

It doesn’t hurt to start off with an 1897 Victorian Dutch Colonial Revival-style house (with matching potting shed) to go with your Dutch tulips.

We don’t have the right growing conditions (or staff) to keep the bulbs going for another year. They don’t perennialize like daffodils. Some tulips do perennialize. These are not those.

After the flowers go, we trim the stalk to keep it from going to seed so that energy can go towards helping the bulb. We also keep the leaves going for as long as they look green and healthy, again, to encourage any extra energy to go towards the bulb. Tying them? That seems cruel.

Even with all that, not all will come back next year, and if they do, they will most likely be wimpier and less vigorous than this year.

Tulips as annuals

This I learned from Buffalo-based Garden Ranter Elizabeth Licata years ago. Your best bet is to treat them as best you can and buy new healthy ones in the fall and add them to your beds. If you start treating tulip bulbs like annuals that have to be planted each year, you’ll be happier, sleep better at night, your skin will clear up, and your hair will be silkier. (You won’t lose weight though. They’re not magic!)

The work

Where I can dig large holes and throw in bunches of bulbs, I do.

Planting them up each fall takes a full afternoon. I take my hand trowel and stab the ground and plop in a bulb. I stab and plop, stab and plop, until I can stab and plop no more. Some times, if there’s room for digging, I dig a wider hole and throw a bunch- 4-5 bulbs or more) into one hole. I get my tulips from Colorblends Wholesale Flower Bulbs. They sell them in color mixes, which is one less decision I have to make. They sell them in the pre-packaged blends, in singles, and also do have perennial tulips, among others.

I always plant my tulips in the front yard and hellstrip. In the early spring we don’t spend any time chilling (literally) in the back yard. The front yard is where we’re always zooming by and enjoy the cheeriness.

And the neighborhood loves them, judging by the number of people that takes pictures of them and take pictures of kids and loved ones in them. I see you all from my office window, Don’t think I don’t see you!

The tulips go in and around all my established perennials. There are so many perennials in there it’s too exhaustive to list! But among them are:

Too much is never enough!
  • Heuchera
  • Hostas
  • Hibiscus
  • Lungwort
  • Black-eyed-Susans
  • Grasses
  • Crocosmia
  • Balloon flowers
  • Chinese lanterns
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Cup Plants
  • Hydrangea
  • Lavender
  • A Japanese maple
  • Shrubs
  • Pounds and pounds of dreaded Chameleon plant (hate, hate, HATE, HATE!)
  • and much, much more!

The joy

The few hours of work in the Fall will leave you with 4-6 weeks of unadulterated joy in the Spring (if you also add in the daffodil blooming time). And the daffodils were on fleek this year too. (Not 100% sure what “on fleek” means, but have been dying to use it). The daffodils do come back every year to say hello.

The hellstrip is now the “Hello! Strip”. You can se some of the established perennials starting to compete for sunlight and attention.

Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (BuffaloStyleGardens.com); he writes a long-standing garden blog (ArtofGardening.org); led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

3 comments on “How I tulip

  1. Connie Stofko

    The tulips look beautiful! And I love your tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I leave my tulips in hoping for the best. The late-flowering ones are the least reliable (maybe 2 years), while species and ‘Impression” series, and Darwins return for me every year. I do give my beds a topdressing of compost and cow manure, plus, when I interplant annuals and perennials, I always add a bit of organic fertilizer to the planting area. Color-blends is a very good company to deal with, I have in the past. Another planting tip is to install tulip bulbs in groups, not “soldier straight” lines. Garden design tip: #DidYouKnow you can get a nice show if planting in triangles, to have a single point aiming at you. Thank you, Jim! I love this article. For anyone who has not see Jim’s gardens, put it in your bucket list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glorious!! One of these days, I’ll have to see that display in person 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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