My two best no-effort, money-saving tulips….
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.
So this post will be a celebration of the last few weeks, when they have been the stars of the garden.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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