There are specific tulips I must grown each year, but before I describe each of my favorites, I want to clear up a little confusion. In this country, most tulips do not come back that readily. It’s not the fault of the tulips, in their home countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Crete and Greece (to name just a few places where they originate) tulips ground in what is referred to as sharp soil. In other words, super well draining soil. They survive beautifully in very cold winters and dry hot, rainless summers, and multiply ferociously. Unfortunately, when they are planted in our rich beautiful soil (or in clay soil like at my house) and then suffer the indignities of our constant irrigating of our flowers and our lawns, they rot. In a perfect world, to have our tulips flower again and again, we’d need to turn those sprinklers off, and let everything die down and go dormant. But since none of us are going to do that, make sure you do amend the soil you plant your bulbs in with plenty compost to make the soil loose and porous. The tulips that I grown in raised beds actually do brilliantly, and some of them are on their third year blooming -- tada -- the power of drainage. But my garden is, in many places, deep, heavy soil, and so many of my tulips don’t come back which is why, every year, I plant more.
Balloon is going to be a new addition to the garden, a Darwin, with huge flowers (said to be 5” long – I’ll report in the spring if it’s true) and the genetics to possibly live on for a long time in the garden. I’m also adding Carousel, a Fringed type, with petal edges that are delicately shredded at the tips. It’s meant to start off primrose, creamy yellow and fade to ivory, but its real attraction for me is the delicate red featherings that decorate each petal. It should be gorgeous in a vase, and I like it because it reminds me of the “broken” or streaked tulips in Dutch still life paintings.
Last year and the year before I planted a tulip called Brooklyn, because it was double and it was green and it looked like an artichoke. It was amazing, but this year I’m trying a different green tulip, one called Evergreen that is a Triumph type. The Triumphs are the largest category of tulips are a cross between early flowering tulips and Darwin types and some of the other triumphs I have in my garden are the longest lasting tulips I own. The Evergreen is a true green edged with chartreuse according to it’s packaging, so we will have to see, but I have high hopes for it, as the Brooklyn, although beautiful, was not a strong performer.
Another category of tulips that are gorgeous but definitely do not come back each year are the Parrot tulips, but only a fool would neglect to add those each year. With pinking sheared petals that romp and curl and twist and colors that dazzle these are the supermodels of the tulip family. I always add a white parrot and a black parrot but this year I’m adding Estella Rijnveld a startling candy cane striped explosion of shock, especially when stuffed into an armful of the elegant, delicate, pure dreamy white blooms of Maureen. It’s hard sometimes to remember to buy the simpler tulips when choosing what will fill the ground, but this classic late white is another strong performer in the garden and amazing in a vase.
Paige Patterson also has a thing for the blue of muscari and if she had enough money would carpet the world with them.