Plants in their season can bring spectacle to the garden when used boldly. I search for such players in my gardens and use them repeatedly, at numerous intervals throughout the planting – I call them the theme plants in my perennial meadows. In my recent posts I suggested mid-season daffodils as the leading theme plants for late spring to be followed by tulips before the arrival of summer.
The city of Amsterdam has in recent years started to celebrate the tulip by placing pots filled with them throughout the main tourist areas. At one level this pleases me as the flower is synonymous with the city, but I doubt that many tourists will be encourage to copy such displays in their own home gardens.
The tulip is available in many glorious colours, but we don’t really need to see them all growing together. With a little more care, the cacophony of colour currently on show in Amsterdam could be turned into a real spectacle by focussing the colour pallet and giving each street its own dramatic theme.
Imagine this same path with the pots filled with alternating tones of reds and purples or even garishly contrasting althernating red and yellow pots of Darwinhybrid Group tulips; surely it would engage the visitors more than the random mixture of colours currently being used.
I try to make a visit to the Keukenhof bulb gardens at least once every spring. This week I finally found time and fortunately the cool weather meant that there was still a lot in flower. Most narcissi were finished but the many mid and late season tulips were looking good.
Bulb mixtures started to appear at the Keukenhof’s show gardens only a few years ago and were initially rather muddled. Now the growers are being more selective and seem to be putting together well blended combinations. When these mixtures include early, mid and late season tulips their period of interest can be significantly extended beyond the single mass planting schemes and pots that decorate most of our city streets.
My own garden lacks its wash of tulip colour this year, as I explained in my previous post, but one tulip the mice cannot reach is the spectacle of Tulipa sprengeri. This rare species tulip is always the last to come into flower, its bulbs grow so deeply in the soil that bulb growers and mice find it impossible to reach. However, when you realise it can be easily grown from seed, there is no excuse not to grow it and let it signal the end of the tulip lead theme planting in your garden; jewel-like blooms signalling the change to summer and the arrival of a new troupe of players in our schemes.