There’s a freeze and awfully cold precipitation on the way, but the sun was out this morning and the tulips in the front border are at their peak. Whatever route the weather takes this Friday I think we’ll be ok… as long as I don’t think too long about all the fresh lily stalks and iris blooms that won’t easily shrug off real cold temperatures.
Whatever. I have a long established belief that protecting outdoor plants from outdoor weather is a lot of work, and I have an even longer established belief that more work=bad, so if you do that math for that one you can easily see that the plants here won’t be protected. Better to just enjoy the sun and admire tulips.
So I don’t know why the tulips do so well here. Obviously deer and other vermin aren’t a problem, but beyond that they last for years with little attention from me, and I hear it from many others that this is not typical for most gardeners.
Most of the books would say this is probably not a good spot for tulips. The ground is heavy and thin, doesn’t drain well, and all kinds of other things grow over the tulips from June on. I think what they do like is the full sun and the compost and leaves which I (usually) mulch with in early spring. Also it’s fairly open and breezy which keeps moisture from sitting on the plants. The tulips do start to dwindle when they get overcrowded, but… well honestly they usually just end up dwindling… A better gardener would dig and divide when the foliage yellows, but who has time for that!? Plus a new bag of tulips in October really won’t break the bank.
All is not bliss in this tulip world. ‘Tulip fire’ is a fungal disease which is better or worse depending on how wet the spring is. It spots the foliage and scars the flowers, but from ten feet it’s easy enough to ignore. ‘Tulip breaking virus’ is also here, and it shows up as colorful streaks on a normally solid bloom. Three years after first noticing it I’m still hemming and hawing about pulling and tossing the infected bulbs, and as the years pass they still fascinate me too much to destroy.
Some tulips just carry the genetics for streaking. I’m not sure how one tells the difference, but according to the seller, ‘Spryng Break’ is a genetic sport and not virused, and last fall it was just what I needed to top off a bulk snowdrop order. Actually I didn’t need them at all. At 50 bulbs for $15 I just couldn’t resist.
I keep coming back to the tulips along the street though. In the backyard digging and moving have not done the tulips well, but out front they are excellent.
The tulips this year are giving me bad thoughts. The raised bed construction in the potager is nearly complete, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to use all those beds for just some vegetables that you could easily pick up at the farmer’s market…. without struggling for weeks to fight off bunnies and birds and bugs… so I’m thinking they would make nice tulips beds. Maybe. Just one. Or two. The tulips do need dividing after all.