It’s tulip time in the Faire Garden. We have had some luck, both kinds, good and bad, with the growing of tulips. The best luck has been with the species types. Shown above, planted last fall are Tulipa Little Beauty, pink, and T. Little Princess. These were featured in the Van Engelen/John Scheepers catalog blooming together. That is why I ordered and planted them that way. There are four groups of twenty five mixed at the edges of the walkways. But the pink one is almost finished blooming and the orange is just beginning. The good thing is that they will probably return well the next and following years. Maybe the bloom times will be closer in the future. The first year of bloom is always a little off, sometimes by two or more weeks, usually blooming earlier in subsequent years. They are still cute though, about six inches tall.

Another new one this year, from the big box store in a combination package. It may be T. Princess Irene. There are two groups of five planted in front of the Black Lace sambucus at the garage side.

Another species, T. vvedenskyi ‘Tangerine Beauty’. These were grown in another garden when we lived in upper East Tennessee and did well there. They are about ten inches tall and planted along the edge of the garage side bed, twelve groups of three or four per group.

Another shot of Tangerine Beauty with the blue star juniper in the background.

T. greigii ‘Toronto’

T. greigii ‘Oratorio’. This one has the most colorful foliage of the greigiis, it was claimed in the catalog. You can see the dark striping of the leaf in this photo. The flower color is nearly identical to Toronto, so if you were to only get one type, Oratorio has longer interest with these beautiful leaves. But Toronto bloomed first by more than a week. We shall see how this turns out in the next few years, who blooms first and who blooms the longest. These are planted in five areas with a mix of twenty of the two greigiis and fifteen Golden Bells miniature daffs in each, topped with chicken wire then mulch to deter the digging of squirrels. It worked.

T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’. This species is much more elegant closed up tightly, as it is when the sun isn’t shining. The interior is white. These were planted in five groups of ten to a hole, for better impact. They are at the low end of the daylily hill.

The first year we moved here, 2000, a package of forty mixed tulips from WalMart was planted, one to a hole in the front yard. They were lovely the following spring, then disappeared. This year a few clumps have returned, having built up enough energy to produce leaves and blooms. Sometimes you just have to wait them out. Most of the area where these were planted is covered by red barberries, totally shading the lower level’s tulips now, and that hinders the bulbs’ brave efforts to grow. This and the other blooming batches are in the sun, that is what enables them to thrive.

Planted in the circle by the front steps is an edging of T. Ollioules, a Darwin hybrid, four bags of eight, planted four to a hole, courtesy of WalMart.

Ah, the wonderful T. viridiflora ‘Spring Green’ is now opening up in the knot garden. These were planted in 2000, twenty five in each quadrant, along with the same number of T. viridiflora ‘Greenland’, a pink one with the green markings of this type, which never came up, nary a one, ever. They must have been a bad group or something. But seeing these white ones en masse every year is a blissful experience. One can sit on the bench there and feel transported to an imaginary formal garden in Europe. Perhaps the only way one will ever get to see those glorious gardens.

Freebies planted when we first purchased the house for the semi-adult daughters to live in in 1996 behind the mailbox. These have never missed a year in blooming, ever. They were free from a nursery in Kingsport, TN with the purchase of other bulbs, long gone of course, the other bulbs, not the nursery.

T. Silverstream, another Darwin hybrid with white edges to the leaves. They come in an array of variegation of yellow with red swirls.

These are stalwart bloomers edging the daylily hill, planted in the same hole with lilies, two tulips per one lily, ten holes in all. All have multiplied nicely and last year the lilies even produced an abundant number of seeds, which have germinated to give us little baby lilies which will bloom someday, hopefully.

There are more tulips not yet open and they will be featured when they decide to show us their colors, but this is most of them. (It should be noted that our best results have been achieved with several bulbs planted in each hole, if only one or two produce flowers in those early years as the bulbs build up themselves after the first year’s big show.) We have waves of bloom here and some of the waves are short lived. If the weather turns warm quickly, the tulips have almost no chance of lasting more than a day or two. It is best to take photos as soon as they reveal their beauty, for they may be gone tomorrow.


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34 Responses to Tulips

  1. tina says:

    You took very nice photos. My species tulips are just showing their colors. I hope they return much better than the Darwin hybrids. We can wait it out together-huh?

    I decided to pot up all my little tulip bulbs that arise each year but never bloom. I hope they get enough energy I can plant them out this fall. We’ll see. Free bulbs but sometimes I feel I should just toss them on the compost.

  2. artistsgarden says:

    I adore tulips – lovely to see yours.
    I am still waiting for mine – but it wont be long now …. weather permitting.

  3. Jane Marie says:

    I think I need to seek out “Lady Jane” as that is my namesake. I like to have flowers in the garden named after my family members.

  4. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Tulips just scream, “Spring!” Beautiful.

  5. Esther Montgomery says:

    I don’t usually enjoy tulips. I find them too ‘stiff’. But I truly like the ‘Spring Green’. If I can buy them in Dorset – I’ll ‘copy’.


    P.S. Unfortunate name though. To me, ‘Spring Greens’ are the new growth on over-wintered brassicas. Tasty but not tulippy!

  6. walk2write says:

    Your photos are spectacular as always. You noted that chicken wire deters the squirrels’ digging. Do you have problems with voles eating the bulbs? I remember having problems with them several years back when we lived and gardened in the Midwest. I haven’t had much luck with spring bulbs in Florida. They usually only bloom the first year, I guess, because of the missing chill factor.

  7. jodi says:

    These are so beautiful! I especially love the species tulips and the viridifloras, but my other faves are the parrots, which as I was once told, look like technicolour lettuces. We do at least have SIGNS of tulips starting to emerge…

  8. chuck b. says:

    Wow, just a day or two, huh. Mine are wrapping up after a month, month and a half. But I think they’re wrapping because I refuse to water them since they don’t re-bloom. At least the ones I’ve bought don’t re-bloom. One of these days, I’ll invest in some species tulips which do. Or should.

    In the meantime, we have similar taste in tulips. I bought those Little Princesses once (or whatever the pink ones are), as well as the Viridiflora. This year all I bought was a bag of randoms. It was alright.

  9. brokenbeat says:

    beware the frosted hand that emerges like a zombie from the grave of winter. they are calling for sub-freezing temperatures for the beginning of next week. off to goodwill to buy all of their sheets. your tulips all make me smile.

  10. Frances, says:

    Tina, patience with those bloomless leaves. Maybe try to throw some bonemeal or other fertilizer on them to give them a boost. Sometimes I remember to give the bulbs bonemeal and sometimes I forget. It really does help them have more flowers, so put it on my to do list!

    Karen, Often I say “No more tulips, too iffy and too expensive”, but am so happy to see their wonderful colors in the spring. I love them, also.

    Jane Marie, we bought those tulips for the name and also magnolia ‘Jane’ the year my dear mother in law left us, for it was her name as well.

  11. Gail says:


    I was just wondering how reliable tulips are for others in Tennessee…so some are very reliable others come and go, hmm! I find the species to be most reliable. They love hot dry summers and wet winters, so it might be the perfect marriage!

    Your tulips are fabulous, seriously lovely…and I have tulip envy right this moment;-)

    How do you hide the ripening leaves?


  12. Frances, says:

    Nancy J., thank, they do have a message to them.

    Esther, there is something unique about the spring greens, poorly named or not. Hope you can find some.

    walk2write, thanks. We do have vole problems along the concrete block walls, right next to the blocks. They tunnel there and the bulbs drop down so deeply that they get lost, not eaten though, as they are only daffs. Funny, though the fritts along the wall are fine. Squirrels are our bigger problem with their digging trying to bury and then find walnuts.

  13. Frances, says:

    Jodi, glad to hear your spring is making its presence known around your parts. We have a geigii parrot called ramapo that is as large as a lettuce and is so top heavy that it falls over. Last year it was underplanted thickly with violas that held up the blooms. That is the way to solve that problem. Put it on the to do list, Frances!

    chuck b., it all depends on our temps, which can range from 80’s to 40’s for the highs at this time of year. The cooler the longer they last. The earliest bloomers, the species, get the cooler temps more often, that helps. I don’t know if I would buy the Littles again, others are better, like the greigiis and spring green.

    brokenbeat, oh I know about old man winter’s reappearance coming this weekend, dogwood winter, this one is. I haven’t planted out any seedlings, just putting them on the deck to sunbathe, then back in. I will cover the hydrangea Nikko blue and the new fig tree that just came, and maybe the canna Phaison already planted outside. Sounds like I need to gather up some sheets also.

  14. Frances, says:

    Gail, I was just noticing that from the mixed bag that was purchased and planted in 2000, all the survivors are the same color, a pinky red shown in the photo. Now if we only knew the name of it! As for the foliage, it is the same as what I told someone, I think it was MMD, about the iris reticulata, I just blind my eyes to it, there are other things blooming and coming up that help to hide it too, like daylilies and hostas.

  15. GardenJoy4Me says:

    Frances your tulips are amazing !
    You have so many beautiful ones. I only have a few hidden away .. Firespray ? vivd red with multiple blooms on each stalk .. any more than a few hidden treasures and the squirrel mafia would be having a field day in my garden.
    Glad I can enjoy yours though ! Thanks !

  16. chey says:

    I love all the beautiful colors! You have quite a lovely assortment! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Lets Plant says:

    Those are some absolutely stunning Tulip pictures!! You definately know what you are doing!!! And think, this is just the beginning!!

  18. The Garden Faerie says:

    Wow–what a much-needed blast of color. It cheered me right up! (Still awaiting tulip bloom here in SE Michigan.) And the shot of the tulip with juniper in the background? Pure art!
    ~ Monica

  19. Frances, says:

    Joy, Firespray sounds lovely and I have to laugh at the squirrel mafia. Putting many bulbs in one large hole and covering it with chickenwire held in place with the long landscape staples worked. They tried to dig at the edges of the wire. I even had to redo the first planting because they got under the wire. The wire was cut to extend well past the hole and held in place with the staples and rocks. It is worth it for the tulips are like nothing else.

    Chey, welcome and thanks for stopping by.

    letsplant, welcome to you also and thanks. For us, the beginning and the end are close together. It has been too warm here the last couple of days and the petals are already dropping on a few.

  20. Brenda Kula says:

    I have never seen anything like that tulip with the striped leaves. And that green one! I didn’t even know there was one. Gorgeous tulips. Mine are history for the season here in Texas.

  21. Frances, says:

    Monica, thanks. Glad to help you out. That shot was my fave too.

    Brenda, those greigii tulips have the pretty leaves and return well for us too, a double blessing. I will feel like you a little later when the northern gardeners are posting their daff and tulip shots. I already miss my early daffs and the excitement they bring after winter.

  22. mss @ Zanthan Gardens says:

    I think there was one T. clusiana left the day you were in my garden. They are the only tulips I’ve been able to grow. Mine are pale yellow inside.

    I do have a bad case of tulip envy, especially when I see a bunch of lovely photos like these. It just doesn’t get cold enough here in Austin for tulips–unless one replants them each year.

  23. Frances, says:

    MSS, I remember your tulip and wondered if they returned for you without replanting. When we lived in Houston, the nurseries sold prechilled bulbs in refrigerators to be used like annuals. They are lovely but the bloom time can be short if the heat comes early. Maybe more of the species would work for you. In southern California our yard came with tulipa bakeri, small but cute.

  24. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Frances, what gorgeous tulips. AND you know the names of them. Gee I feel so inadequate. I must start keeping the names of all my plants. ha… Love seeing these. I really like the tangerine one in front of the blue juniper.

  25. Frances, says:

    Lisa, thanks, but don’t feel bad. I am not sure about Princess Irene, can’t find the label, am unsure from the journal entry. When those last few bulbs that have been marked down in the big box stores around Christmas get planted, all normal record keeping is forgotten in the cold and hustle bustle. The blue star tulip shot came out well.

  26. chuck b. says:

    They’re even more lovely to visit in the evening than they were in the morning. I esp. like ‘Toronto’.

  27. Frances, says:

    chuck b., thanks for returning. Toronto and Oratorio are the same exact flower, T. just had a better photo.

  28. Layanee says:

    Wow! Your hard work pays off! Love all those colors and that Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’ in the background!

  29. Frances, says:

    Layanee, thanks. Magic carpet is the most excellent of shrubs, it makes everything around look fantastic, will grow in sun, shade, wet, or dry, and roots wherever a branch touches the ground. It is without the leaves for only a short time here during the winter and is colorful throughout the growing season, more red in the fall, golden in the spring. The flowers are pinky mauve, but could be sheared if not to your liking. They are pruned here to keep the bushy and promote new leaves.

  30. semi says:

    Your blog will have to be my shopping list for next years batch of tulips. You really do have beautiful pics! love semi

  31. Frances, says:

    Semi, thanks. Your photos are pretty nice also. I might use some of them with permission of course. love.

  32. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    Gorgeous tulips! I don’t know that that tulip is orange enough to be ‘Prinses Irene’ as it looks a little too on the red side to me… but definitely it’s a pretty one, whatever it is.

    I can’t wait to see my t. greigii blooming now that you’ve shown off yours. 🙂

  33. Frances, says:

    Kim, thanks. Do you think the orange one could be Apricot Impression? It doesn’t seem large enough to be an impression, but that is the only other orange tag in my pile. Good luck with your greigiis, I just love them.

  34. I’m pretty sure your anonymous ivory/white tulips from the nursery in TN are ‘Purissima’ or ‘White Emperor’; has incredible perennializing qualities and to me one of the best tulips ever.

    Hi Pomona, thanks for that. White Emperor was offered at the nursery where it was given out. Both of those would be good additions to our garden if they are that long lived. I appreciate the info. 🙂 Added, I see they are two names for the same tulip, thanks for adding to my education, Pomona!

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