Monday, April 9, 2012

Tulips, surprising and otherwise

One of the nice things about a spring that starts a month early with unseasonal heat and then cools down to normal again is that for once we get to spend time with our late season bloomers.  Tulips are hanging on longer, as are the late daffodils that usually show up for three days and then die of heat exhaustion.  You can see a couple of them in the background of this photo.

In the foreground... surprise!  Or rather, 'Surprise,' which is a tulip I bought I swear ten years ago because it had the name of Jack Aubrey's ship (oh dear, am hopeless) and planted out front by the mailbox in eight inches of mostly clay, and it is still pumping out a few blooms each year.  Do not believe anyone who tells you tulips are not perennial.  (They are, technically and botanically, a sort of annual that reproduces itself underground, for which there is a word, and they make for interesting metaphors, which is basically how I see the world.)  As I have said before, the secret to perennial tulips is to plant ones that clash violently with something else that blooms nearby at the same time.  In the case of 'Surprise,' this was the magnolia with the purple-pink flowers a few feet behind.  In the 2012 spring oddity, however, the magnolia is leafed-out and pretty much done blooming, so the tulips don't contrast so horribly.

They also go well with the clusiana tulips behind them, which are the real secret to perennial tulips (along with anything else in the "species" category, or Kaufmannias, or Greigiis, or Emperors, or even the Triumph sort that 'Surprise' belongs to, or even Darwin Hybrids if you have just the right spot).  I adore clusianas; they are petite and delicate and transition every day from a perfect closed bud to a wide-open display of petal interiors, and back again.  I think these must be 'Lady Jane,' though I don't actually remember buying those; they might also be an unspecified species type.  I've got bunches of them, and I'm so glad to get to enjoy them at length this year.  These photos were taken over a week ago and they're still going strong.

Didn't post sooner because I was away in South Carolina for a few days.  Photographic evidence coming up.


  1. The pictures of the tulips are lovely!

    I am going to water my daffodils tomorrow. I have been holding off, hoping that it would rain, but so far nothing but stray drops. They are just getting into the full bloom of the biggest groupings and starting to look a bit droopy. So far I haven't heard about any major wildfires, but it's a worry with no leaves or ground greenery yet.

    1. We've had fire warnings here. Very unusual for April!

  2. Some rain here, but scattered and not much on our side of the mountain. Ben got hailed on mowing one of his cemeteries, not much grass to mow except in some spots. I did water two of the gardens this morning, and will do the big sloping one tomorrow, maybe that will provoke some rain, but it's not in the forecasts.