General description: Tulips must surely be the most popular of all bulbs. Their range is vast, from little single early flowering varieties to the almost blowsy multi-coloured feathered parrot tulips. Their colours range through most of the spectrum, from almost black (actually very dark purple) to the purest white. In between one finds shades of near blue, green, "broken" colours, and every shade of red, pink, yellow and mauve, often with several colours in one flower. As shown elsewhere in this website one can enjoy 100 days of flowering by selecting varieties from our range. No garden should be without tulips.

Mixed tulips in a bed at Riverside House, April 2009

Lily tulips, and others.
One of our tulip borders, in early April  

Angelique, always very popular            

Where best to plant: Tulips prefer fertile, well-drained soil, with plenty of sun and for the taller varieties protection from the wind. Since the foliage must be allowed to die back, which will take six weeks, take this into account. In the top picture opposite we have filled a bed with a wide range of tulip types. Annuals will be planted into the bed as the tulip foliage dies, which will soon hide it from view. In fact the senescing tops will protect the newly planted annuals as they establish themselves.

Planting hints: People often think of tulips in the way they are planted in municipal parks and gardens, in great chunks of one colour and one variety. Our own view is that this is the wrong way to display tulips. Why not split up the varieties and the colours, even the heights, and fill the beds with an ever-changing kaleidoscope?
The bulbs themselves must be set between 5 and 8 inches deep. For best results remember it is the sun on the senescing foliage that produces next year’s flowers, so leave the foliage intact. It can be removed when it comes away from the bulb without undue pulling.
To lift bulbs or not too lift? Enthusiasts will lift bulbs and store them in a cool greenhouse to ripen, replanting in late October, or better November. Why so late? The soil needs to be cool or else the bulbs will start growing and may be affected by winter frosts. 
Leaving tulip bulbs in the ground is risky, as if there is a wet spell during the summer it is very easy for the dormant bulbs to rot. The Darwin varieties are not too susceptible, and indeed we have some Red Apeldoorn which are now over 20 years old, and still flowering in dense undergrowth. The bottom picture shows one of beds in spring 2011, with nothing having been planted in 2010. Everything in the picture survived a wet summer and a very cold winter, having been planted at least two years before. 

If it is your intention to lift them at the end of the spring one can plant at a shallower depth, but be warned, they can then be vulnerable to being dug up by local wildlife, such as squirrels, rats, mice and even pheasants.

Variety information: There is such a huge range of varieties we suggest you dip into our price-list, and click onto the many pictures of various tulip varieties flowering in our garden. We choose varieties which grow well for us, and are often told  that they grow well for our customers as well.
Generally the more expensive the variety the more difficult it is to grow. This is because even commercial growers find them difficult. That is why we tend to offer the more common varieties.

Other useful facts: Did you know that the word tulip derives for the Turkish word for turban? This came about because early Dutch botanists when they were seeking tulip bulbs in Turkey, the original home of the tulip, saw the tulip motif in the turbans worn by the Turks with whom they were dealing, and pointing to the motif asked the name in Turkish. The answer they received referred of course to the whole turban.


Tulips after two years in the same bed, with no new stock having been added. See text above for more information.