My two best no-effort, money-saving tulips….

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: April 19th, 2014 In: Uncategorized

I don’t dig up my tulips every year, and I don’t want to buy bulbs every autumn. So I need tulips that will come back reliably and will look good with lots of different plants. If they can multiply, that’s a money-saving bonus, as, like most middle-sizers, I always have a bit more garden than I have time or money. And, of course, they have to be gorgeous. With a rattle of drums, step forward….Ballerina and Queen of Night. Both have been flowering in my garden for several weeks now, unlike some of the others, which had a burst of glory, then lots of fallen petals.

Tulips Ballerina and Queen of Night

Tulips Ballerina (orange) and Queen of Night (black) come back year after year.

So this post will be a celebration of the last few weeks, when they have been the stars of the garden.

Ballerina tulips and clematis

Ballerina tulip and an unusual red-foliage clematis.

Here is Ballerina (and a couple of Queen of Night in the background) with an unusual clematis, planted by my predecessor. The clematis grows upwards in black-ish purple ball until it suddenly ‘explodes’ into a trailing mound of frothy white flowers, which last for weeks. It’s an ideal partner for bulbs, because its foliage covers the earth in summer and autumn. I’d love to know what it’s called – people always ask me.

Tulip Ballerina and Bowles Mauve

Tulip Ballerina with another favourite of mine – the hard-working wallflower ‘Bowles Mauve’

You wouldn’t think orange would be a colour that goes with everything, but somehow it does. I love it with the acid-green foliage of spring, but it’s also a great contrast to purples, pinks and reds.

Tulip Queen of Night and bronze fennel

Tulip Queen of Night with the foliage of bronze fennel against our ancient garden wall.

Here is Tulip Queen of Night – which I planted in 2004 – still going strong, with the foliage of bronze fennel. I don’t find that Queen of Night multiply much, but they do come back, and seem to keep going for weeks. I have only just been told – by gardening friend Kylie O’Brien – that the name is Queen of Night, not Queen of the Night.

Tulip Queen of Night with creamy-yellow wallflowers

Tulip Queen of Night with creamy-yellow wallflowers

I spotted these Queen of Night growing in a neighbour’s front garden, partnered with creamy-yellow wallflowers. I don’t plant much yellow (does that make me a garden snob or just someone who doesn’t like yellow?), but this looked so fresh and charming.

Queen of Night with rose foliage

Queen of Night with rose foliage in our front garden

I don’t think I’ve ever realised that rose foliage can be very pretty, but with Queen of Night as a contrast, I really fell in love with this grouping. Queen of Night can look almost black against some backgrounds, but quite purple against others.

Queen of Night early in the morning

Queen of Night with foliage – early in the morning

I woke up early one morning and went onto the terrace to see Queen of Night looking quite ethereal against its own blue-green leaves, and I think there is some allium foliage in there, too.  This is where the dahlias flower later in the year.

Tulip Queen of Night and Camassia

Tulip Queen of Night and blue camassia – I love the almost-black and blue

And this Tulip Queen of Night with blue camassias is QoN’s latest flourish of trumpets. I can’t remember planting this, and when I did, I most certainly wouldn’t have remembered there were camassias there, so it’s another example of how the Queen looks wonderful with everything.

ballerina tulips in veg bed

I planted these 12″ deep in 2004 and have since grown spuds, beans and squash over them. I will do some weeding soon…

Garden writer and presenter Gay Search has reminded me that if you plant your tulips really deep (ie about 12″), then they’re much more likely to come back. When I first started gardening I planted 15 Ballerina in the veg beds, at 12″ deep, and here they are now (above). Please avert your eyes from the weeds. I’ve grown potatoes, beans, squash and herbs on top of them over the years. I’ve since rather forgotten about the ‘deep’ tip -but it is a really useful one.

And Will Denne of Tasteful Plants in Faversham also reminds us ‘not to be too tidy’ about clearing away tulip foliage (I like lazy gardening tips), but to dead-head after they’ve flowered and add some fish-blood-and-bone around the plant if you want even more tulips next year.

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7 Comments

  • Jen says:

    They are just gorgeous! And great tip about planting deep, I didn’t know that 🙂 #LoveYourHome

  • Oh my, they look really beautiful, as does all your garden. Love the colour combinations. I don’t have a garden (though I do have an allotment) so I am very jealous! #loveyourhome

    • Thank you so much. If you have an allotment you might be interested in the post I’ve just written (since the tulip post) as it’s about planting tulips with lettuces or herbs – and if you put tulips really deep in your allotment patch you can grow stuff over them later on in the year. Some of mine are planted about 12″ deep.

  • Stephanie says:

    I am in love with those Ballerina tulips. I think I might have to purchase some of those though. I don’t dig up my tulips either (well not on purpose anyway!)

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