I promise, promise, promise, soon I will show you all of my yard. I actually got out and took photos, but the weather’s been so nice, I haven’t wanted to sit down inside and edit them all! Fortunately/unfortunately, it’s going to be stupid cold this weekend, so I won’t have a lot of incentive to go outside. (Naturally, this is also the weekend I’m signed up to do an outdoor pruning workshop. Nothing like scrambling up trees in the snow!)
In the meantime, I wanted to chat about something that’s been on my mind lately: tulips. It’s March, it’s been an unseasonably warm late winter, and tulips are popping up everywhere. Nothing blooming yet, of course, but the scene above is becoming increasingly common all over my yard.
I could not be more excited about this, because this year, I have a lot to look forward to. I hoarded bulbs all last summer and fall, culminating in a marathon Saturday plant-a-thon with the help of my delightful nephew. A few hours and a couple pizzas later, we had almost 200 bulbs in the ground.
I’m going to run you through the varieties I planted, but first, a couple quick tips:
- Planting a whooooole bunch of tulips in one big mass, rather than a single-file row or small bunches, will make way more of an impression. Even random clumps here and there can look nice and natural. The “row of soldiers” may seem like a natural choice for a border, but if even one doesn’t come up, it’s going to look funky.
- Don’t feel like you have to dig individual holes for bulbs. I’m a big fan of the trench method, where you just dig a big trench at your planting depth, and then nestle your bulbs into it (like the photo above).
- We may live in Beaverdale, but our most common rodent residents are squirrels. They love to dig up bulbs and eat them. There are a lot of potential remedies for this, like interplanting garlic among your tulips, but I opted to plant all of my bulbs in a cage made of poultry wire—I just laid down one sheet in the bottom of the trench, turned up the edges, placed in my bulbs and soil around them, then laid another sheet on top and buried the whole thing. It’s a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but I don’t seem to have lost one single bulb to the little jerks—and I can see where they’ve tried!
- Tulips, I think, have this reputation for being very springy and Eastery—pastel and bright colors. There’s nothing wrong with those! But if you look outside the garden-variety ones (har har), you can find some beautiful moody colors and interesting shapes that are much more my style.
Our house is made up of deep red and plum brick, with deep red trim, so I wanted our tulips to contrast nicely against it. I opted for a palette of white, peach, brown, and plum, and I can’t wait to see it all together. Let’s take a look at the varieties. (None of these links are sponsored or affiliate, by the way—just links to where I bought them.)
First up is Apricot Impression Darwin, one of the more traditionally-shaped tulips in the bunch. I couldn’t resist the beautiful peachy color, and how it fades to a fuchsia/purple toward the bottom.
Black Hero is a double tulip, one of my favorite types. The blooms almost look like peonies—huge and ruffled, swaying on delicate stems. The color of this variety is unbelievable, and should give some gravity to the whites/apricots.
Be still my beating heart. Parrot tulips are my absolute favorite, and I think it’s easy to see why—their big, ruffled blooms look like sculptures in the garden, standing out among the smoother and more sedate cousins. They even die beautifully, with their petals twisting further and further outward before finally giving up the ghost. Next year I plan to add apricot parrots as well—my very favorite—but they were all sold out last year. For now, I’m happy with these Black Parrots.
The tulip that launched a thousand gardens. La Belle Epoque is possibly the most unique tulip in the bunch—its color is indescribable, ranging from terra cotta to khaki and sometimes even veering into peachy territory. Its double blooms are just showstopping; I can’t wait to see it come up.
True story: I bought one bag of these Princesse Irene bulbs at my local nursery, thinking they were pretty bright and I should restrain myself. Then I was there a week later for something else, and bought another bag. Then I went back to look for Mount Tacoma, and bought another two bags. In the end, I have more Princesse Irene growing than anything else. But can you blame me? Peach fades to tangerine, all streaked with plum and ruffled at the edges. Gorgeous.
Mount Tacoma! The tulip I was looking for when I brought home all those Irene. Happily, I did also find this incredible, ruffled, cream-white double variety. I love gardenias but I don’t live in the South, so these are meant as a little stand-in for me.
I wanted a few more sleek elements in the tulip patch, and I thought a little shot of fresh color would be nice, so these Spring Green Viridiflora guys are doing the trick. I think they’ll fade into the background a bit and provide a nice backdrop for the showier varieties, which is just what they’re supposed to do.
Combo breaker!! Thalia is not a tulip at all, it’s a tiny narcissus/daffodil. I couldn’t resist its diminutive size, papery white blooms, or rumored excellent scent, so I mixed them into the front of the tulip trench. It’ll keep things looking less formal to have another variety mixed in, while hopefully still working nicely with the other tulips.
We’re still a few weeks out from seeing blooms—and that’s a good thing, given the hard freeze we’re in for this weekend—but it makes me happy to see the sprouts pushing their way through the soil. A nice little reminder that things are progressing and it’ll be time to get out there before you know it. Did you plant any spring-flowering bulbs this year? What are you excited to see come up?