This week we are excited to have Stacy Hirvela of Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs discuss which types of tulips to plant for a lasting presence in your garden. Join us during Tulip Time 2015 to hear Stacey speak as one of our featured garden expert. CLICK HERE to learn more about Stacey’s Tulip Time appearance and ticket sales.
“It’s tempting to select tulips for your yard based on color alone. After all, it’s those saturated, box-of-crayons hues that draw us to tulips in the first place. But you’ll enjoy your investment a lot more if you choose varieties based on their bloom time rather than simply their color. With just a bit of research and careful shopping, you can enjoy 6-8 weeks of non-stop blooms. Here’s how!
Most people don’t know that tulips are divided into 15 internationally-recognized classes based on their flower form and bloom time:
Early season bloom: Single Early, Double Early (these refer to the number of petals), Greigii (this is the type that often has ornamental striped foliage), Kaufmanniana (very short, with splotched foliage), Fosteriana (with narrow, elegant flowers), and species tulips (these are the same tulips that are found in the wild in Central Europe).
Mid-season bloom: Darwin Hybrid (tall with a classic flower farm), Triumph (medium height with saturated colors), Parrot (with twisted, fringed petals for a very showy and unusual effect).
Late season bloom: Single Late, Double Late, Viridiflora (prominent green ribs on petals), Lily-Flowered (elegantly proportioned with pointed petals that curve outward), Fringed (neat and tidy, with pretty little fringes around the edges of the petals), and Rembrandt (similar to the famous “broken color” tulips that caused Tulipmania in the Netherlands in the 1630s).
Armed with the knowledge of these 15 distinct types, you can easily orchestrate a dynamic display that lasts much longer than it would if you chose by color alone: just pick your color scheme and then select a few varieties from early, mid, and late season bloom periods. Most garden centers create eye-catching displays based on color alone without acknowledging the various bloom times, so you may have to do a bit of careful reading – whether the bloom period is indicated on the package depends on which company packed them. If you prefer to shop online, the task is a bit more straightforward: websites usually organize their selection by classification and bloom time.
Let’s say I wanted to create a classic red and yellow display. I might start out with ‘Red Riding Hood’ a Greigii tulip with nifty purple markings on its gorgeous blue foliage, and mix in the fabulous ‘Monsella,’ a yellow double early with red breaks for some height and depth. Here in Michigan, these would probably start about mid-April, though tulip emergence is heavily tied to the weather, so exact timing would vary. As those open and begin to peak, the mid-season bright yellow ‘Conqueror’ and vivid red ‘Oxford’ would start showing color, bringing classic color and shape to the display. I might not be able to resist adding ‘Princess Irene’ (also known as ‘Prinses Irene’, its Dutch name) to the mix, because this timeless orange and red variety is delightfully fragrant. Finally, as the last petals fall from the early bloomers, the late season varieties arrive to perk things up. I’d definitely get some yellow ‘Maja,’ since fringed tulips are among my favorites and some ‘Sky High Scarlet’ for its straight, strong, tall stems and pure red flowers. I would simply have to include one of the later-flowering Parrots, like ‘Texas Flame,’ ‘Parrot King,’ or, if I wanted to be really crazy, the flamboyant ‘Red Bright Parrot,’ with its splotches of purple and yellow on the bright red petals. Might as well end tulip season with a bang, right?!”
All photos courtesy of Longfield Gardens: http://www.longfield-gardens.com/