Tulips!

We’re in peak tulip season now, and these stunning scenes remind me to plant tulips in masses.  Or at least in dozens.

Just recently blog-readers have been talking about tulips, since the Washington Post’s “Green Scene” columnist advised digging them up after bloom and replanting in the fall.  Turns out almost no one does that.  Instead, they  do one of two things.

  • Treat tulips as annuals.  That way you can simply plant what you really want, a new variety or color every year.   Then dig up and toss on the compost pile after their flowers have faded.  The frankly ugly foliage?  Not an issue.
  • Choose the types that return reliably each year.  The best are Tulipa kaufmanniana or “waterlily tulips”, Emperor tulips (T. fosteriana), Greiggi tulips (T. greigii), and for full-size tulips, Darwin Hybrids, Single Early, Double Early and some of the Triumph tulips.

Or if you garden with deer, as I do, you plant them only in the front yard where the deer don’t roam.   As to which type, I like the species in pots – their shorter size are perfect for containers.   And if I see a full-size tulip that catches my eye I’ll grab a dozen or two for a prime spot in front of the house, to combine with the muscari that DO come back every year.  (I LOVE grape hyacinths).

Photos and text by Susan Harris. Photos taken April 11, 2010 at Brookside Gardens.

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