Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tulips on my mind

The calendar may say June, but it feels more like fall today. Daytime temperatures in the 40s aren't unheard of this time of year, but that doesn't make them any more palatable. So, if the weather conjures up visions of autumn maybe it's an appropriate time to think about fall planting. I'm thinking about tulips. Of course, it helps that the Beauty from Bulbs catalog from John Sheepers arrived last week and with it Brian's announcement that we need to plant more species tulips. Indeed we do. We've dabbled with species tulips and so far have been very happy with the results. They're undemanding and beautiful. Here's a sampling of the show we enjoyed this spring, in order of appearance:

1. Tulipa turkestanica: This cool little baby has multiple flowers on each stem. It strikes me as an incredibly happy flower, probably because it blooms early when I really need a dose of optimism. It flutters and dances beautifully in a light breeze.

2. Tulipa humilis violacea: Lovely pools of magenta-purple. Rabbits got some of them this year, but not too many. That's tall garden phlox off to the right. It will help camouflage the tulip's dying foliage. Like other bulbs, you want to let the foliage of species tulips ripen before cutting them back.

3. Professor de Monsseri: This Greigii tulip has mottled foliage and red and yellow blooms. That's Sedum cauticola coming up between the bulbs. Another way to help camouflage dying/unattractive bulb foliage.

4. Tulipa dasystemon: The yellow center with white tips reminds me of fresh fried eggs. Delicious!

5. Tulipa hageri 'Splendens' (above and below): Love the skinny leaves and rusty red, dainty blooms. That's pussytoes (Antennaria) surrounding the tulips. I don't really care for the flowers of pussytoes so I'll whack them off and enjoy the silvery mat-forming foliage.

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