THE BULB IS­SUE

A thou­sand tulips shine among the emer­gent fo­liage of spring in the gar­den of bulb en­thu­si­ast Joke Ci­j­souw

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Front Page - WORDS SI­MONE VAN HEININGEN PHO­TOGRAPHS SIETSKE DE VRIES

I’m al­ways late or­der­ing in my tulips,” says Joke Ci­j­souw. “So late in fact, that they are some­times sold out by the time I start buy­ing them on the in­ter­net. That of­ten means a last-minute dash to the lo­cal gar­den cen­tre to get some more.” Given that Joke has been adding some 1,000 bulbs to her gar­den ev­ery au­tumn for the past 30 years, you have to won­der can she re­ally for­get? “No, it is just that I find it dif­fi­cult de­cid­ing what the gar­den should look like in April, when it is not even Novem­ber.”

Set back from a coun­try lane in the Dutch prov­ince of Zee­land, the cot­tage where Joke lives with her hus­band Henk, is at the end of a plane tree-lined drive that also takes you past lines of Turkey oaks, poplars and a pad­dock con­tain­ing an old chest­nut to a neat front lawn. Sep­a­rat­ing the lawn from a ter­race by the house are two mixed bor­ders speck­led through­out with tulips: ‘Black Par­rot’, ‘Glas­nost’, ‘Or­ange Favourite’ and ‘Apri­cot Beauty’.

“I use the plant­ing method ad­vo­cated by Dutch bulb ex­pert Jac­que­line van der Kloet,” ex­plains Joke. “Mix your bulbs up in a bucket, throw them around and plant where they land, usu­ally some 20 bulbs per square me­tre.” Peren­ni­als, such as Euphor­bia chara­cias and Heuchera vil­losa ‘Palace Pur­ple’, and the snowy white of Ame­lanchier lamar­ckii pro­vide in­ter­est­ing con­trast. “I opt for tulips that f lower in April, May,” says Joke. “By that time, you will have fresh fo­liage as a back­drop, but at a height that still al­lows the tulips to shine.”

Near the side en­trance to the cot­tage, a cob­bled yard is dec­o­rated with ac­ces­sories from Joke’s vin­tage shop, In­terieur ‘t Hofje, which is based in the cot­tage’s old barn. A per­gola, which in sum­mer is awash with Rosa Wester­land (= ‘Kor­west’) and Rubus phoeni­co­la­sius, screens the yard from the rest of the gar­den, with a tra­di­tional brick path link­ing the two ar­eas. Al­though the cot­tage looks old, it was built just 40 years ago by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, us­ing ma­te­ri­als from the di­lap­i­dated farm­house that first oc­cu­pied this site. “They also laid the paths and built the fences,” says Joke. “But their gar­den was all trees, el­der­ber­ries and hazels. Some we kept, some suc­cumbed to old age, and some we felled to make room for a more florif­er­ous gar­den.”

To achieve that vi­sion, Joke and Henk first had to tackle the north­west­erly winds that blow in from the North Sea. They started by plant­ing a privet hedge along the north­ern bound­ary of the east-west ori­ented plot. Joke then had some of the lo­cal clay re­moved, re­plac­ing it with bet­ter drain­ing for­est soil bought from nearby Dom­burg. Over the years the cou­ple have added more hedges for prac­ti­cal and aes­thetic pur­poses. When they moved in, a horn­beam hedge par­al­lel to the house sep­a­rated the gar­den from a pony pad­dock. Once the ponies had gone, this too be­came part of the or­na­men­tal gar­den, and the eastern bound­ary was pushed back to­wards a low Lon­icera hedge that keeps a cou­ple of Zwart­bles sheep in check. A wrought-iron gate in this hedge, opens out views across the sheep meadow to the coun­try­side be­yond – the per­fect sight­line from the con­ser­va­tory and brick-paved ter­race.

To the left of the ter­race, tulips grow among Ajuga and Helle­borus niger in a box parterre, to the right is a veg­etable gar­den and berge­nia-edged bor­der, where the pink, red and ma­genta of tulips ‘Ros­alie’, ‘Red Hat’ and ‘Doll’s Min­uet’ are fol­lowed by sim­i­larly coloured Lupi­nus ‘My Cas­tle’, cos­mos and dahlias. “Come Novem­ber, I’ll try to de­cide on seven tulip cul­ti­vars,” says Joke. “One strong colour, sup­ported by a few softer pas­tels. I like whites and yel­lows, but I love reds, pur­ples and pinks. And I get the oc­ca­sional sur­vivor from pre­vi­ous years. Tulipa ‘Puris­sima’ al­ways comes back.”

In a cir­cle of box around a gnarly old Pyrus com­mu­nis, tulips, in­clud­ing ‘Pur­ple Rain’, ‘Blue Di­a­mond’, ‘Lou­vre’ and ‘Renown’, rise up be­tween Scilla and Gal­ium odor­a­tum. “Once they fin­ish flow­er­ing, I take my hedge trim­mer to the box and sim­ply swoosh it across the soil as well,” says Joke. “There’s no use plant­ing any­thing here for sum­mer, be­cause the tree’s leaves will keep out all the light.”

Else­where in the gar­den plant­ing be­comes more re­laxed. A me­an­der­ing path along the north­ern bound­ary, back to the front lawn, has a dis­tinctly for­est feel, with Lu­naria an­nua, daf­fodils, prim­u­las, and white and yel­low tulips, such as ‘Puris­sima’, ‘Maja’ and ‘Creme Up­star’. It is the per­fect hide­away for the pheas­ants, mice and voles that feast on Joke’s bulbs. Joke, how­ever, shrugs off any wor­ries she might have about the havoc such wildlife could wreak on her tulip dis­plays – hav­ing put in 30,000 bulbs over the years, she can af­ford to lose a cou­ple. USE­FUL IN­FOR­MA­TION Ad­dress No­ord­weg 4, Biggek­erke, the Nether­lands. Tel +31 (0)118 552114. Web­site tu­inthofje.nl Open Ev­ery Thurs­day, 10am-4pm, or at other times by ap­point­ment.

Turn to page 60 for ten of Joke’s favourite tulips.

“I USE THE PLANT­ING METHOD, AD­VO­CATED BY DUTCH EX­PERT JAC­QUE­LINE VAN DER KLOE – MIX YOUR BULBS UP IN A BUCKET, THROW THEM AROUND AND PLANT WHERE THEY LAND, USU­ALLY 20 BULBS PER SQUARE ME­TRE”

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