WHAT TO TEAM WITH TULIPS?
Complementary plants for great combinations
Tulips are often planted alone en masse, and while this can be very effective in containers – pots of bridal white tulips, for instance, make a fabulous first impression when positioned beside the front door – borders filled with huge drifts of nothing but tulips can look a bit old fashioned. so perhaps it’s time to shake things up a bit, and the easiest way to do so is by pairing your tulips with other spring plants. pick the right partners and you will give them a new lease of life.
For an ultra-modern look, team tulips with grasses: perennial forms such as
Stipa tenuissima provide a show for the whole of the summer (and into autumn), while evergreen species give interest year round. Try bronze-leaved Carex comans in tandem with Tulipa ‘Black parrot’ (claret) and the crimson ‘Antraciet’.
spurges (Euphorbia) also look fabulous with tulips, and will light up the garden with their acid green-yellow tones. Grow tulips in front of the larger forms, or in amongst compact species such as
E. oblongata and E. epithymoides. Take inspiration from Beth Chatto, who demonstrates how beautiful small yellow and white Tulipa tarda look when combined with layers of spurges in her garden in Essex. Opt for yellow, cream and white tulips (such as ‘Moonlight Girl’ and ‘White Triumphator’) for a similar palette. Or choose a scheme of bold pink, orange and red to really ramp up the colour of your euphorbias to fever pitch.
You could also consider the orange euphorbias (E. griffithii ‘Fireglow’ or ‘Dixter’). With their tangerine bracts and dark foliage they partner well with burgundy and pink tulips such as ‘Queen of Night’ and ‘Menton’. Meanwhile, for a splash of red, the scarlet flowers of
Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’ will be brought to life by maroon and deep red tulips (‘paul scherer’ and ‘National Velvet’ will both work well).
if you don’t want to tackle a major overhaul, rethinking your tulip choices can itself work wonders. The addition of a few carefully chosen varieties will transform a border, quickly and easily. slender, lily-flowered forms such as ‘West point’ are a good bet. And if you really want to plant nothing but tulips, consider sticking to a white lily-flowered variety (again, ‘White Triumphator’ is a winner). This will look lovely on its own amongst greenery, or enclosed by box or similar hedging.
Before deciding, take some time to explore your options. The beauty of tulips is that there is one for every style of garden – and they’re even more spectacular when paired with the right plants.
Slender yellow ‘West Point’ adds a touch of class, especially when combined with the rich greens of variegated hostas, and white peonies ‘White Triumphator’ is elegant enough to work equally well when planted solo or incorporated into a varied scheme