10 of the very best tulips to plant now

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Front Page -

For a joy­ful burst of spring­time colour, Sarah Raven in­ves­ti­gates the lat­est tulip va­ri­eties on trial in the walled gar­den at Parham House – and picks the best

One of the best things about gardening, once you’ve had some ex­pe­ri­ence, is seek­ing out new va­ri­eties, those re­cently launched plants and bulbs which have yet to hit the main­stream. The best places to do this are lead­ing plant nurs­eries, com­mer­cial show fields (like Thomp­son & Mor­gan’s in Ip­swich), and tri­als. In tri­als you’ll see rows and rows of dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars, all from one fam­ily, some new, some old, so you can work out which you like best, and you can find out from the grower how they’ve looked and per­formed over the whole sea­son.

We do am­a­teur plant tri­als in my gar­den at Perch Hill (echi­naceas, new dahlias, car­rots and florists’ al­stroe­me­ria this year) and I love the whole process, but there are big­ger and bet­ter places where plants are rig­or­ously tested. These are worth seek­ing out if you feel like a trip.

Ev­ery year Which? Gardening car­ries out worth­while tri­als at Capel Manor in Mid­dle­sex. They’ve done tulip col­lec­tions, hy­drangeas and pol­li­na­tor dahlias this year.

Then, of course, there are the RHS trial fields. At Wis­ley in Sur­rey they’ve had thal­ic­trums, aga­pan­thus and pen­ste­mons, among many oth­ers, un­der their mi­cro­scope in 2016. And at RHS Hyde Hall in Es­sex, colchicums are be­ing as­sessed.

I’ve re­cently done sev­eral vis­its to the tri­als in the walled gar­den at Parham House in West Sus­sex.

The Wis­ley-trained head gar­dener at Parham, Tom Brown, is on a quest for the best of the best, so he loves a trial. With the walled gar­den open most of the year (on Sun­days in Oc­to­ber), there’s al­most al­ways some­thing in­ter­est­ing and im­pres­sive to see.

Last spring, I vis­ited Tom’s trial of tulips for cut­ting. This time last year they planted 60 va­ri­eties of tulip in two beds with 8ft rows, packed in stripes cheek by jowl. Tom de­cided

Bright stripes: the tulip trial at Parham House, top; Sarah Raven pick­ing from her own bor­ders at Perch Hill, left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.