Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, May 2011
Smaller Tulips for the Garden and Troughs- by Mark Smyth

Iíve been suffering from Tulipmania for many years and have always been attracted to the smaller species and their cultivars that are suitable for rockeries and troughs.  In late summer garden centre shelves are filled with suitable small growing tulips. The choice is getting better every year. Mail order offers a wider range of bulbs.  The names listed at the end of this article are among the best in Europe

Donít believe that tulips are throw away and last only one season. This only makes more money for suppliers. I have never thrown away tulip. Also donít believe that saving tulips until January before planting them makes a better plant. The longer a bulb is out of the ground the more dehydrated and stressed it gets. When planted moulds can very quickly destroy the bulbs.
Buy your bulbs as soon as you see them and try to plant them within a few days. I donít give mine any special treatment other than to add some bone meal at the bottom of the planting hole. The beds I grow my tulips in are very different. One has a clay soil and the other is very light and humus rich. Those in troughs are in a gritty mix.

Last year I decided to buy some of the March flowering tulips. Itís a bit confusing to see tulip buds appearing at the end of February and to have pots of colour by March 10th.

I have grouped the tulips in my garden in three groups according to where they look best Ė troughs, rockery and beds

 
Troughs

What about a tulip that flowers during snowdrop time and continues in to April?

Tulipa neustruevae has the longest flowering period of any tulip that I grow. Itís very short with flowers that reach about 2 inches 5 cm high. The outer three petals are backed with green with a hint of pink. The inside is bright yellow
In troughs you donít want tulips that will get too high. T. aucheriana is the shortest I grow and itís grown in one trough with a few in troughs around it to make it look like they are seeding.
 It grows to a height of about 2 inches 5 cm. Their colour is dark dirty pink with a paler ring towards the centre. Their flower buds are at soil level just now but they are at their best in late April.
T. sogdiana is a lovely small delicate tulip for March reaching about 20cm 8 inches  high. The outside of the petals is various shades of silvery green and pink. The inner three are silvery white with a green stripe on the outside. Inside the centre is yellow.
(Sogdiana was an ancient  Asian kingdom centred around the fabled city of Samarkand)

T. iliensis is another dainty tulip that flowers, for me, in March. The outside is peach with a hint of green. The three inners are bright yellow. The height is also around 8 inches 20cm.

8 inches 20 cm may sound tall but the three tulips above are very dainty. They are also very suitable for rockery and pot culture
 
Rockery
On the rockery I grow some of the special T. clusiana cultivars like Sheila, Honky Tonk and Tubergens Gem. These tulips gets the most oos and ahhs and queries from people passing by. Although they can reach 30cm 12 inches their flowers are carried on slender stems. The flowers are tall and slim also. You would hardly notice the leaves if they are coming up through Narcissus and Galanthus. En masse they look fantastic especially if the cultivars are grown in blocks. They seed freely so if you want the cultivars to remain pure remove the seed heads before they shed their seeds. The easiest to get hold of are Lady Jane, Tinka and Honky Tonk. Lady Jane is a deep pinky red on the outside and white inside. Tinka is pale clean red on the outer three petals with clean pale yellow inside. Honky Tonk is the shortest T. clusiana. It is almost pure yellow but the outer three have a tinge of peach.

 

In pots for now but will go in to the raised beds when dormant are the, new to me, large flowered March flowering selections of species tulips. They are around 16 inches 40cm tall. The outsides are richly coloured but when they open youíll be running for the camera like I did. Tulipa kaufmanniana Johan Sebastian Bach changes colour from creamy white to glistening pink on the inside

Iíll not describe them and let the photos do the talking

 

T. clusiana 'Lady Jane'

T. clusiana 'Lady Jane'

T. clusiana 'Honky Tonk'

T. clusiana 'Honky Tonk'

T. clusiana 'Tinka'

T. clusiana 'Tinka'

T. kaufmanniana Fair Lady

T. kaufmanniana Voshod Solnka

T. kaufmanniana Johan Sebastian Bach

T. kaufmanniana Fair Lady

T. kaufmanniana Voshod Solnka

T. kaufmanniana Johan Sebastian Bach

 

Janis Ruksans  Bulb Nursery Rozula LV-4150 Cesu distr. LATVIA % Euro gets a catalogue

Leonid Bondarenko http://www.litbulbgarden.com/home.php

Eugenijus Dambrauskas http://www.augisbulbs.com/