I Like Tulips :)

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.

tulip border

Out front the tulips are quite nice this year.

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.

tulip marit

‘Marit’ is a favorite of mine.  There are a lot of favorites, but right now she’s on top.

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.

tulip border

Four years ago I planted the ‘Incendiary Mix’ from Van Engelen and they’re still going strong.  

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.

front border

Honestly.  I deadheaded daffs and cut the grass, but only after I enjoyed the tulips and took pictures.  Here’s the view from the mailbox.

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.

tulip virus

Tulip breaking virus on a solid orange tulip.  I can see why the red and yellow streaks could cause a mania.

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.

tulip spryng break

‘Spryng Break’ fully open, flanking the front porch, and highlighting my beautiful little deadsedge .

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.

tulip perennial border

A driver actually slowed down the other day and when I looked up to see who it was they said they were just admiring the flowers.  Lucky them, if it weren’t for social distancing I would have made them get out and take a tour.

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.

25 comments on “I Like Tulips :)

  1. Pauline says:

    Lovely, lovely tulips, I can’t grow them, far too wet here, so I’ll just admire yours!

    • bittster says:

      You will have to satisfy yourself with snowdrops, fritillaria, primula… all the other plants you grow so well! But of course it’s always the ones you can’t grow that seem so tempting!

  2. Your tulip palooza is exciting. All of that color at one time. I would slow down to look too. I especially like that color combo of orange and pink with a shot of yellow. Yellow is my mania at the moment. I saw (on another blog) a Parrot tulip ‘Amazing Parrot’ that has the orange and pink color combo. I am going to try to find it for sale someplace this fall. Your full sun setting does make for nice upright soldierly tulips, showing them off at their best.

    • bittster says:

      The tulips do seem to enjoy the full sun, it makes me question all the trees and shrubs which I’ve planted. I think I remember reading that all gardeners eventually become shade gardeners. We will see.
      I also saw pictures of ‘amazing parrot’! It’s completely too much of everything and I loved it. Eventually it will end up here 😉

  3. johnvic8 says:

    Love your tulip show. How do you get them to come back from a previous year? The only one I could ever get to come back reliable was “Angelique.” Maybe it’s the zone.

    • bittster says:

      I think you’re right, the zone helps and I’ve also noticed that they enjoy a cooler, dry spring since hot weather seems to trigger an early dormancy. ‘Angelique’ is a beauty, if that’s the one that returns for you I wouldn’t mind at all!

  4. Dorothy Swift says:

    I enjoyed the tulip show. I was ill last fall and did not buy any new tulip bulbs. There are quite a few that bloomed from previous years. I’ve decided to perennialize my tulips (monthly feedings) and not treat them as annuals!

    • bittster says:

      Sorry to hear that illness kept you away from bulb planting but great to know that some returned anyway! The monthly feedings sound like a good plan, I bet that will make a big difference. Mine always seem to enjoy a nice coating of compost or some fertilizer coming their way.

  5. Cathy says:

    The front bed looks glorious Frank! You are so modest about your garden, claiming you do the minimum of work, yet it always looks so well-cared for! My tulips are nearly all over and I am already making a list for a bulb order… 😉 I have to contend with mice though, so more will have to go into pots this autumn.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I have to admit that this year is a little different, and although I have yet to weed through the tropical bed most of the rest of the garden looks remarkably well tended. Now I just have to commit to evicting some of the nice things which are getting out of hand.
      Mice stink. We always have a few in the garage, but fortunately they seem too lazy to go outside and bother things in the garden. Actually the little stinkers robbed me of all the cyclamen seed pods in the winter garden, so even in the garage they do their share of damage. We need more ambitious cats, but on the other hand I do love all the birds and bunnies, so…

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    All those beautiful tulips make me a bit green with envy! Voles eat most of the ones I’ve planted, though the species ones I’ve tucked in a bed here and there seem to fare well so far. They are heavy feeders I find, so as long as I get them fertilized in time, they perform well.
    Hope the cold spell isn’t too bad in your garden, Frank. Fingers crossed!

    • bittster says:

      Ugh, you have voles? I’m now amazed you manage to keep anything alive in your beds considering the damage they can do. My mother can’t even grow crocus, I don’t know how they manage to find every bit of edible root and bulb and destroy it!
      The cold spell was not good here. Lots of things damaged, but once it warms up next week I (think) I’ll be in high spirits again… actually I know I’ll be in high spirits, but the damage is sad to see.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Late frosts are so disheartening. We had a dusting of snow overnight and I haven’t dared go look at the bleeding hearts. Like you said, next week it’ll all be forgotten, more or less.

  7. I’m jealous. I keep hoping someone will slow down to admire my garden. So far, no one has, at least not while I’m around to see it. Tulips don’t perennialize for me, but the first year show is pretty good, so I’m thinking of indulging this fall. Need something for after the daffodils fizzle and before the peonies get going. It’s snowing here right now. Supposed to get an inch. I covered my recently planted lady’s slipper, but that was it.

    • bittster says:

      Hmmm. I would think the tulips would like some of the same conditions as colchicums. Maybe all the good spots are filled already! I used to be a sucker for the end of season sales at the Depot or Lowes. Half off a huge bag of bulbs and I’d be cursing myself as the snow piles up on my backside while I’m hunched over trying to get them planted before the ground freezes. It was always worth it in May.
      I think we are done with the cold now. One last dip tonight and then adios winter. I even bought a few tomato seedlings yesterday.
      My garden will look green for a few weeks until the iris start. Alliums and columbine are starting to fill in though, and they do a decent job until the summer bloomers start.

  8. hb says:

    Ohemmgee what gorgeous spring bulbs! Such a treat to see them. Now is that all under some snow again?

    Here tulips are iffy annuals that must be refrigerated for a couple of months before planting. Then the likelihood a spring heat wave will destroy them just as the flowers open is about….95%. Unquestionably too much work, so I’ll enjoy your photos instead, which is not work at all.

    • bittster says:

      heh heh, I don’t blame you for passing on the nonsense of chilling tulips, I can’t even begin to think of all the ‘better’ things you can grow! Actually just the image of your roses mixed with tender succulents throughout would be enough to fill a whole garden in itself. Restrain would be the biggest challenge 🙂

  9. I have always loved the ‘broken color’ tulips. Love that pun-ish name of ‘Spryng Break’! 😀 It got down to 36 last night (Friday) and was only 39 at 9 am this morning. Isn’t it supposed to be May?? I will probably do a patio-side tulip bed several years from now and hope that the myriad of rodentious critters in my area don’t consider them to be a smorgasbord. In my last garden the Darwin hybrids would come back for about 5 years but the soil was much better there. Here it’s muck.

    • bittster says:

      The weather looks better from now on… although I see plenty of raindrops in the forecast. At least I won’t need the seat warmers in the car or a coat and gloves in the garden!
      Hopefully this will be the year you can start putting that garden back together again, the endless ripping and tearing can really dull your spirits. But you’re smart to hold off until then. I always plant first and then wonder what I was thinking and what a pain it is to move everything out of the way to do the simple things which should have been done years ago…. Oops, I’m just thinking about the mess out back lol

  10. I love that last shot as so many of our garden images are about plants. It is really nice to see them in their various locations. I tried planting tulips in the middle of astilbes thinking it would confuse the bunnies. NOT! I have a friend who has a Hosta with a streaky virus. Beautiful foliage but she was told not to move or share it. But those tulips certainly are beautiful.

    • bittster says:

      Once the lawn weeds green up the bunnies become much less damaging. Crocus are still always in danger, but I think clover and dandelions taste sweeter than tulips. But… three things are nibbled relentlessly. A birch seedling flavored so deliciously it can’t grow taller than six inches (even when fenced), Lathyrus vernus (spring vetchling) with its scrumptious pea flavor, and the rose ‘Julia Child’ which is so tasty her namesake would be proud.

  11. Wow, it’s sort of impressive to have tulip breaking virus. Now if only you could travel back in time to Amsterdam in the 1600s. They really are kind of beautiful, and the rest of your selection is stunning.

  12. I hope your garden fared better than mine in the freeze, Frank. Enjoyed your tulips. I don’t grow them because they are a favorite deer food here. I like your thought of putting some in the potager. I may steal that idea — my vegetable garden is protected by a fence so maybe some bulbs in one or two raised beds there would satisfy my tulip envy. P. x

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