Arthur discusses his favourite tulips, growing at Perch Hill this spring...
My very first visit to Perch Hill (several years ago now) was in April, the boom time of Sarah’s garden. Tulips of all varieties are staged and trialled, in the cutting garden, upon the banks, among emerging roses, plumes of fennel, globular buxus and euphorbia, and in great long tom pots and containers.
This spring, I returned to help with the floristry, for one of the Perch Hill suppers. Here are my favourite tulips currently found growing at Perch Hill this spring.
Apricot Parrot - I love all parrot tulips, with their waxy, thick petals that look as if they belong in a jungle rather than the English garden. Like a macaw parrot in floral form. This one is a jersey cream, flecked with rich, scarlet-pink and a little orange. It reminds me of an Eton mess! If I was planning on doing flowers for a late April/May wedding, I would plant this bulb by the hundreds in the previous autumn for the purpose of hand held bouquets.
Queensday - A huge, newly bred peony tulip, with double petals that look incredible in the flower bed or as a single cut bloom. This tulip is truly like a flower that Lewis Carroll would have wanted in Wonderland. They give such clout and presence in the garden that I find it hard to pick them. Sarah has these growing in a shady corner of the Oast garden, among ferns. The zappy, fresh lime-green backing of their unfurling leaves, make them look even more impressive.
Brown Sugar - I grew this about 2 years ago in my mum’s garden as part of the scented tulip collection and had forgotten how tall and statuesque it is. Its stems are whopping, tough, tall and thick, holding the globular flower with petals of a light, golden-toffee, fading to brown in its centre. It's sweetly scented too. I used it as the gate crasher flower in a Nero vase arrangement during Perch Hills latest open day.
Sarah Raven - I have this in the Emma Bridgewater garden planted as part of the blood orange collection and it's my favourite tulip of this year. It's a true, unique burgundy lily flowering tulip, opening up to reveal another set of petals, incredibly elegant. I hope it becomes a favourite of many gardeners to ensure its survival in the Holland growing fields. Sarah Raven lines the main path of the cutting garden at Perch Hill with its accompanying tulips Arjuna and Request, along with a new short but zesty parrot tulip called Comet.
Impression series - I was unsure about planting 300 bulbs of these new Darwin hybrids in the Emma Bridgewater courtyard but am so glad that I did. They are – at the time of writing – at their peak and have been for nearly 4 weeks now. It's like having a flock of flamingos around the place, as every shade of light pink to sunset orange is found within them. They are perennial too. If you cut them for a bud vase, they look even bigger in the house than in the garden! These are to be seen upon the bank beneath the Perch Hill greenhouse, at large, standing with great gusto.
Whittallii – This year these have been planted in long toms in the Oast garden which line the path, they’re a change from the usual bulb lasagne mixes that have been here previously, but they absolutely work. Small is truly beautiful. I arrived at Perch Hill, on a sunny afternoon where each flower was fully open, a feast for the eyes of rich mandarin orange and fresh, egg yolk yellow. They reminded me of toucan’s beaks. I'm going to copy this idea of Josie’s next year as your losing a trick by ignoring these little tulips from your bulb selections.
Thanks for reading!
Arthur works as the gardener and florist at the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke on Trent. He follows Sarah’s principles in growing cut flowers which are used in the factory shops, café and during events. Before this, he worked for Sarah for a summer after completing training at the Royal Botanical gardens of Kew. Arthur’s favourite plants are those which make fabulous cut flowers but that are also bursting with pollen and nectar for visiting pollinators. His first love are chickens and feels strongly that a garden is not complete without the presence of poultry.