Com­ple­men­tary plants for great com­bi­na­tions

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

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

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