The Prettiest Tulip

No, it’s not a beauty pageant. It’s not a contest at all, in fact. It is just some images of the tulips blooming here in the Fairegarden in 2012. The weather has not been kind to the tulips, getting near ninety degrees Fahrenheit in mid-March. But thanks to quick work with the camera, some of these beauties were captured at their peak, to be preserved for posterity. And the blog. There are many other tulips grown here, but alas, photos of them are not available at this time. Above is Tulipa vvedenskyi.

Tulips are real starlets, showing off for the closeups with aplomb. But this garden is not merely a series of dressing rooms for divas of the flower world, it is meant to be viewed from various pathways and seating areas, inside and outside of the house. The long view is what counts. T. vvedendskyi is a brilliant red orange that grabs the retina, standing out well against white creeping phlox and the various shades of greens and blues along the garage side entrance to the back gardens. Remember these words, they shall be used as an acronym for the rest of the post; need more, or NM.

Very pretty and very little is Tulipa ‘Little Beauty’. Originally planted with T. ‘Little Princess’ that is the same except orange where this is pink, the pinks are far more vigorous after several years in the ground. The orange is nearly a no-show.

Thanks to sound advice from my friend and tulip aficianado, Pomono Belvedere of Tulips In The Woods, we planted a new patch of Tulipa ‘Purissima’, aka T. ‘White Emperor’. Freebie bulbs with purchase from a nursery long ago were planted behind the mailbox of this house in 1996. They still return to bloom in most years. Identification was made by Pomona in a comment on a blog post that featured these returning tulips. More were added a couple of years ago to the white/yellow garden and have shown the same returning trait.

Beyond sublime but oh so unreliable is Tulipa ‘Angelique’. Stunning in the first spring after planting but absent for the next four years except for a leaf or two, one flower has graced us in 2012. Don’t let the macro shot mislead you, one tulip a garden does not make.

Going with the theory that if white purissima/emperor is such a perennial, perhaps Tulipa ‘Orange Emperor’ would prove to be also, three groups of four were planted along the edge of the Black Garden. In this, the second year, only a couple bloomed, but hope lives on for more in the future. Maybe a little feeding would help.

There could be no more perfect tulip for the Black Garden than Tulipa ‘Queen Of The Night’. Planted and replanted through the years, one or two will always return. Sometimes it is best to treat tulips as annuals and keep buying more. Here it is: NM.

The newest tulip is quite outstanding, Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’. Oh, she is something with her gown of dark orangey red with purple brushstrokes on the outer edges.

Seen above with Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’, the color echo is serendipitous. It is with great sincerity that we wish for her to return in subsequent seasons.

In bright light, Prinses Irene, also spelled Princess in some places, appears more golden, also attractive in the dark realm of the Black Garden foliage.

Planted in 2000 in the Knot Garden, with crowded clumps dug and spread to fill in gaps in the four quadrants that are surrounded by a boxwood hedge, Tulipa viridiflora ‘Spring Green’ holds court as the Queen of the Garden.

Exquisitely elegant, the green and white simplicity of this tulip is the opposite of the over the top Prinses Irene. In close up or from afar, this is a dedicated space for a few fine days each spring to the grand show of a mass planting monoculture. As the tulip foliage yellows after the seed heads are snapped off, this area is ignored until the tulip leaves have dried up to wisps and can be safely removed. Until next year, my pretties.


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23 Responses to The Prettiest Tulip

  1. gail says:

    Frances, They are delightful and pretty. I noticed ‘Angelique’ was blooming in my garden, she is pretty but as you say unreliable. Your photos of ‘White Emperor’ are lovely and I think I shall have to add that one to the list. Sigh~I shall be doing battle with rodents and deer over which critter really owns the garden, me or them! xoxogail The Prinses is a beauty, too.

    Hi Gail, thanks. The best method here seems to be to cover the planted tulips with a large piece of chickenwire, then large rocks on top of that. When the foliage starts to poke up I move the rocks to the side a bit. Subsequent years don’t seem to be much of a problem.

  2. Just come in from the garden where I have been taking photos of tulips, and came back in to find your blog. We seem to grow the same tulips as you!

    Hi Green Bench, thanks for visiting. How wonderful that we can grow the same things, but garden in such far flung and different climates.

  3. Hi Frances,

    I have many of the tulips you mention and the same experience with them not coming back. So, I think it is better to think of them as beautiful annuals and try some new ones each year.


    Hi Eileen. I am ever hopeful of them coming back, like purissima and spring green do, but will continue to plant new each fall, just in case.

  4. Hi Frances – I like how you think about the tulips being annuals – they seem to disappoint as returning bulbs. I have many of the same tulips – Queen of the Night and Angelique are two of my favorites. Although I have to agree with you about Angelique – fleeting beauty that she is. My take-away from today – must get some Spring Green.

    Hi Heather, thanks. Writing this helped me to see that I need to keep on planting and not wait for some of these to return.

  5. Lea says:

    Beautiful tulips!
    I like the way you used bottles to border the flower bed!
    Have a great week-end!
    Lea’s Menagerie

    Hi Lea, thanks. I just did that bottle edging, perhaps should have removed the labels! HA You too, have a great weekend.

  6. Valerie says:

    Very pretty tulips. Ours have not bloomed yet. We had a bit of frost this morning. The pansies are sulking. V

    Hi Valerie, thanks. Our tulips are way ahead of schedule, and not lasting nearly as long as we would like with these super warm temps. Be glad of your cool, the pansies will perk back up.

  7. sandy lawrence says:

    All stunning! But T. ‘Spring Green’ took my breath away. I’m a sucker for green-tones in blooms, especially combined with black-near black foliage or flowers. After seeing your photos, I’m willing to treat ‘Spring Green’ as annuals here in TX, where I can only depend upon the species tulips. After our warm winter, I was surprised to see them return, but they did, ever faithful. Just not as long lasting this year.

    Maybe ‘Angelique’ thinks she doesn’t have to appear in large numbers to impress. She may be right!

    Hi Sandy, thanks. Spring Green never disappoints. I like colors and brightness but that green and white palette in the knot garden is so serene. This viridiflora acts like a species tulip here, thank goodness.

  8. You have some of my favorites here…I adore watching Spring Green come into its white color….

    Hi Donna, thanks. I have to admit to adding Prinses Irene to the fave list. I don’t want to be without her!

  9. I have yet to add bulbs to my gardens…..maybe this Fall…thank you for sharing!

    Hi Stacy, thanks for visiting. I hope you are able to add some bulbs, they really pay off the leap of faith required to plant something totally dormant in the fall, not to be seen until spring.

  10. How exquisite all your tulips are! I too treat my tulips as annuals in my zone 7b garden. I planted over 3000 last December and they just gave me a spectacular show this month! Absolutely love Spring Green..will be planting some this fall. I usually plant Angelique in my container pots and treat them as annuals too. Your photo’s are exceptional!

    Hi Graceful Gardener, thanks for adding in here. I can imagine 3000 tulips in bloom, like the big public gardens we see around here. I cannot imagine the back breaking planting of them!

  11. Christina says:

    Hi Frances, your tulips are so utterly beautiful! Tulipa ‘Angelique’ is breathtaking, too bad that she refused to reliably come back for you. The color combination of Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’ and Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’ is mind boggling. How in the world did you come up with the idea for this great pair? Last but not least Tulipa viridiflora ‘Spring Green is so captivating in her fresh white/green appearance. I thought I don’t like mass plantings but now I have to say except for tulips :-). Thanks for this great post!

    Hi Christina, thanks. The combo of red dragon and the princess was totally by accident, seredipity. I now understand about the foliage companions to the tulips much better and will pay attention from now on. Spring Green en masse is delightful every year. There is a groundcover of mixed creeping thymes under them.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Seeing your tulip display is an inspiration. You should post this next fall too to remind me to plant some of these beauties. I just love purple tulips. I have a few in the garden but as you say a few don’t make it. Have a great weekend trying to keep up with all the plants charging in to summer.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. When it is time to order the fall bulbs, early bird discounts are usually in May, many people usually do have tulips in bloom. I will try to remind you! Now who is going to remind me? HA

  13. They are all pretty, aren’t they! Love to see spring in your garden.

    Hi VW, thanks. Spring is fast turning into summer here, if you blink you will miss something that has bloomed!

  14. Tammy says:

    What gorgeous tulips, the colors are absolutely magnificent. I love Queen of the Night tulips, I think they are one of the most unusual. The starlets are also really striking, I would like to have those in my garden. Fantastic photos, they make me feel like I can almost reach out and touch those tulips.

    Thanks, Tammy. The tulips really are outstanding in the garden. I need to work on the companion plantings with them for more of a staged production.

  15. thequeenofseaford says:

    Your tulips are lovely, especially ‘Angelique’…wow! I am not buying anymore tulips, they are not good in the heat. I will just admire them from afar.

    Thanks Janet. I was off the tulips for a while, too. Maybe you should go with the little species, like Lady Jane? They are much more heat tolerant and more likely to return, too. Or not.

    • this login stuff with WordPress is nuts!!

      So sorry, Janet. Blogger has been treating me that way for years, since I also have a Blogger account. Remembering which password and name they want can make one crazy! I feel your pain.

  16. Rose says:

    I’m glad this is not a beauty contest, Frances. My definition of “the prettiest tulip” is whichever one I happen to be looking at , at the moment. It’s interesting to note which ones have lasted a number of years in your garden, like ‘Spring Green,’ which is a beauty. I keep telling myself every fall to plant more of the longer-lived ones, but I am always tempted by the more exotic ones like ‘Prinses Irene.’ Even if they only return a year or two, it’s worth planting a few of these dazzling varieties. ‘Angelique’ is one of my favorites, and surprisingly it has come back for several years for me.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I agree completely about who is the prettiest. I am sold on Prinses Irene, will get more and not expect any returns, but will celebrate any that do. Maybe more Angelique, too, in a better spot. Those colors are too wonderful.

  17. All winners, but I particularly love the persicaria with Princes Irene. And those viridifloras!

    Hi Helen, thanks. Any tulips that bloom here are winners!

  18. Town Mouse says:

    Amazing! I can see how the pollinators must be attracted to the bright colors. Wish tulips would make sense here – well, looks like things might work out with some CA native bulbs I planted.

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. Good luck with your natives, I hope they wow you!

  19. chuck b. says:

    Loveliness! Thank you for growing tulips. I’m not allowed to. The possum and raccoon won’t let me.

    Hi Chuck, thanks for stopping by, so nice to see you! I am sorry to here about your large critters. Even the chickenwire and large rock barely keep the much smaller squirrels from digging up stuff here. We do have a groundhog, too, who ate azalea stems. At least those can’t climb up higher. But I am not complaining, we want wildlife to be happy here. And they are.

  20. Love your pictures of your Spring flowers. Mine are not lasting very long here because of the early warm weather, but it has cooled down so they are looking better. You have ones that I have never seen before. Simply beautiful. Well I believe I have finally got my blog back up so check it out and let me know what you think. Have a great day. It is a work still in progress, but I’m learning. lol

    Hi Sandy, thanks. The warmth has certainly shortened the bloom time, but has also made things bloom earlier and more of them at the same time. Every year is different, isn’t it? Good deal on your blog. I will check it out when time allows.

  21. Really lovely, and green tulips are fantastic! I immediately did a Google search for them. I am going to have to join Plants Anonymous soon. Thanks !

    Hi Sorticulturist, thanks. Plants Anonymous, yes, you will be in good company there!

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