The Ottoman Empire, in a similar way to Holland, had a fanatical obsession with tulips. Needle-shaped flowers were prized of which Tulipa acuminata is an example. This wild species tulip flowers later than most. Its flower petals drawn out into long fine points are yellow splashed with orange and red marks. In one way the flowers are wispy, even insignificant, but once spotted, they are exciting and dramatic.
My answer to the wispy nature of Tulipa acuminata has been to combine it with another late flowering tulip, Tulip ‘Ballerina’. Lily flowered tulips such as Ballerina are the modern day equivalent of the needle-shaped tulips of the Ottomans. Their long petals end in a noticeable point. They are elegant, sophisticated tulips to be used alongside early flowering shrubs and perennials in mixed garden borders. These lily flowered tulips have presence and by mixing Tulip ‘Ballerina’ with Tulipa acuminata both get all the attention they deserve.
This circular planting is the final stage of a much larger tulip display in this particular garden border where earlier dramatic Emperor and Darwinhybrid tulips reigned; the brash and joyful early spring display being toned down to intrigue and sophistication.