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Autumn Planting: Tulips

September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Allotments & Gardens, Top Picks

My love affair with tulips began a few years ago. I was visiting Durham Botanical Gardens and they had some beautiful displays of Mickey Mouse tulips, which are a stunning yellow colour with splashes of red.

Bumping into the Head Gardener, I mentioned to him how much I loved the tulips, and once the season had finished, he very kindly presented me with a box full of the bulbs. There were so many that even after giving away half of them to other keen gardeners, I still had enough to fill six troughs and planters with the bulbs, even after double layering them! The result: come April, my garden was treated to a gorgeous display of the beautiful flowers and I was hooked!

angeliqueI have grown tulips every year since then. I’ve tried a number of different ones in addition to the Mickey Mouse bulbs. One of the things I like about them is the enormous variety. Tulips are available in almost every colour, giving them a wide appeal. If you have a colour theme for your garden, you are guaranteed to find a single or multi-coloured tulip to fit in your design.

Tred riding hoodhis year I make a little mixed display of white Maureen and the ever-popular, deep, dark purple Queen of Night tulips. These were striking – but I also love a good splash of colour and some of my favourites have been these gorgeous Angelique tulips – double-petalled and a lovely shade of pink, particularly stunning after a sudden Spring shower:

And these bold Red Riding Hood dwarf tulips:

The foliage on these red tulips was just as special as the flower heads themselves.

Tulips are best planted in October to November and are Spring flowering. However, there are a few things to bear in mind when planning which tulips to grow:

  • Flowering times – tulips don’t flower for very long (unfortunately). So if you’re planning to make a display of them, make sure you check when they are due to flower, otherwise you could end up with some March- flowering bulbs mixed in with others that flower in May and your design will be a bit messed up!
  • Take note of their full-grown height – for example, the red tulips in the photo above are dwarf tulips and wouldn’t look good buried in the long stems of Maureen or Queen of Night. If you live in a windy area, dwarf tulips may be a safer bet, as the long stems can be bent over or damaged by strong winds.
  • Tulips are quite hardy, but it’s good to give them a bit of protection against nature – they can be a tasty treat for a number of animals such as squirrels, so I always cover my tubs with netting as soon as I’ve planted them until they’ve grown enough that the netting could become more of a danger than a protection (tangling stems and leaves!) They can withstand the cold of winter well, but the UK has experienced harsher winters recently, so it can also be worthwhile to protect them with fleecing if the weather becomes very cold and frosty.

About the Author

In addition to developing her gardening skills, Christina also works part time for Primrose, an online gardening shop which supplies everything for the garden from garden mirrors to shade sails and pest control.

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