Doesn’t seem like yesterday when I was last planting tulip bulbs. This year has passed by so quickly.
Although I leave the tulips bulbs in the ground every year, very rarely do they reappear or naturalise. So I always have to plant new bulbs to ensure a good display.
A favourite area in one of the gardens where I work is the Hornbeam Walkway that links the back of the house with the main garden. Snowdrops and hellebores are the first flowers to wake this area up from its winter slumber. Then during late spring the area is awash with colour from tulips, followed by alliums.
Summer and early autumn is less about colour but more about foliage and texture. Hostas show off their beautiful foliage, with ferns filling the shady spaces. Sedums planted near the start of the Walkway offer the last blast of colour in late autumn before the area re-enters it winter dormancy.
In November all the perennial foliage has died back and the fallen hornbeam leaves have been cleared. This is the time every year I plant the same three tulip varieties- Negrita, Paul Scherer and Shirley.
Negrita is a purple tulip, veined with beetroot purple. The tulip grows 45cm high and is lightly fragranced. Paul Scherer is a rich dark purple, almost black tulip that grows up to 50cm in height. Shirley is a white tulip with flecks of purple and a purple edge, growing up to 50cm tall.
Because I’ve got three different tulip varieties, I put ten of each variety in a pot and then set them out where I want them to get a good mix of colour. When ready, I tip each pot over, scatter on the ground and plant the bulbs where they land. By planting each variety in groups of ten means you get little blocks of colour, which seems to work well.
When seeing the Hornbeam Walkway like this on a cold, cloudy November day, it’s hard to believe the mass of foliage and colours that will hid this dull bare soil. Two years ago was a fantastic year for tulip flowers. But last year was not so good as there seemed to be more foliage than flower. I think this was down to unusual weather conditions.
So far the weather has been similar to two years ago, albeit with less rain. So I look forward to next April and welcoming the tulips for what hopefully will be a wonderful display.