TULIPS: SPOILT FOR CHOICE

We help you to de­cide from the huge va­ri­ety avail­able

Amateur Gardening - - This Week In Gardening - Tamsin Westhorpe

THE tulip ma­nia of the

17th cen­tury might be over, but tulips still com­mand a tremen­dous amount of at­ten­tion to­day. At plant­ing time in Novem­ber, gar­den­ers flock to gar­den cen­tres to take their pick of the tulips. With so much on of­fer the choice can be con­fus­ing. To make the se­lec­tion process a lit­tle eas­ier, I’ve been look­ing at which tulips the ex­perts ad­mire.

Sarah Raven has a very tempt­ing au­tumn cat­a­logue for mail-order shop­pers. If you want to put on a show of more than one tulip, turn to her col­lec­tions for help. Each year she groups to­gether a stun­ning se­lec­tion of tulips that will sparkle in any gar­den. I asked Sarah what her favourite tulips are, and she picked out three. “Tulip ‘La Belle Époque’ for its crazy full­ness and ex­trav­a­gance, ‘Bal­le­rina’ for poise and scent, and rich-crim­son ‘Sarah Raven’ for class [of course] and peren­nial stay­ing power,” said Sarah.

On my shop­ping list this year is Sarah’s new Honey and Smoke Tulip Col­lec­tion, which in­cludes ‘Jacuzzi’, ‘Brownie’ and one of her favourites, ‘La Belle Époque’.

Pots of suc­cess

Tulips are of­ten the first choice for spring con­tainer dis­plays. Con­tainer gar­den­ing ex­pert Har­riet Ry­croft has tried many dif­fer­ent tulips over the years, so found it dif­fi­cult to pick a favourite. She says: “I have a dif­fer­ent favourite ev­ery year. ‘Black Jewel’ is a sturdy, glossy-fringed tulip that first forms a neat, al­most black egg shape, but as it opens the fringe shows it­self and has an auburn tinge. This tulip picks up the colours of neigh­bour­ing orange tulips.

“An­other con­tender is ‘Slawa’. This is a lily-flow­ered tulip that starts off ma­roon-flamed with pur­ple and has dark orange tips. Then, as it ages, the orange in­ten­si­fies,” adds Har­riet.

If, like Har­riet, you can’t de­cide on one tulip for your pots, plant two lay­ers, so you can en­joy hav­ing dou­ble the dis­play. As the top blooms start to fade, the bot­tom tulips take on the show.

Gar­den wor­thy

No tulip con­ver­sa­tion would be com­plete with­out a word from Philippa Bur­rough of Ult­ing Wick Gar­den in

Mal­don, Es­sex. Thou­sands of tulips are planted ev­ery spring in her gar­den and you’d be hard pressed to find a more in­spir­ing place to visit for tulip in­spi­ra­tion in spring. The tulip open­ings in 2019 are Sun­day 28 April 11am-5pm and Fri­day 3 May 2-5pm.

“I love the late-sea­son tulips, as the stronger spring light sets off their vivid colours. ‘Abu Has­san’ is a favourite when back­lit by af­ter­noon sun. It has a unique deep-ma­hogany colour with an edge of yel­lowy-gold that fades el­e­gantly to white,” says Philippa.

“This year I am try­ing ‘Amani’ for the first time, as it looks like a deepred ver­sion of ‘Abu Has­san’. ‘Bal­le­rina’ is a wor­thy gar­den favourite, as its lily-flow­ered shape and el­e­gant leaves make it per­fect for pair­ing with grasses and other del­i­cate-leaved peren­ni­als. It also has a won­der­ful scent.

“Also, ‘Paul Scherer’ is a magical black tulip and, in my opin­ion, is bet­ter than ‘Queen of Night’ as it is darker and has a larger flower size.

“Tulipa ‘Jan Reus’ and ‘Na­tional Vel­vet’ are rich Vene­tian colours that blend so well with dark pur­ple and orange tulips. Both are ro­bust and last a long time, but ‘Barcelona’ is my favourite of the shock­ing-pink tulips, as it is again ro­bust, long-flow­er­ing and has a beau­ti­ful flush of pur­ple on the stem. I also have a soft spot for ‘Carnaval de Nice’ as it is such a del­i­cate and feminine-look­ing tulip.”

AG colum­nist Val Bourne has an idyl­lic cot­tage gar­den in the Cotswolds, so I was keen to know which tulips she ad­mired. “The one I love is the cool, green and white virid­i­flora tulip ‘Spring Green’. I use it in the shadier ar­eas of the gar­den, among ferns. It’s peren­nial too and will pop up for sev­eral years,” says Val.

Can’t de­cide which tulips to buy? We re­veal some of the ex­perts’ favourites that you can try in your gar­den

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