Sarah's blog: The Tulip Garden

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We had our first light frost this morning — ice on the windscreen of the car — which has made me start thinking about planting tulips.

In what-was-the-veg-garden, we’re creating what we hope to be a mini Keukenhof — where I can show-off all my tried and tested favourite tulips, as well as grow lots of new ones found in trial and exhibition fields in the Netherlands this spring.

The first lot we’re putting in this week are ones we know to have mega vase lives. It’s the ones which have a good splash of green in the petals which last the longest, both in flower in the garden and once cut and put in a vase. There’s something about the texture of the green section of the petal which makes it more like a calyx, or even a leaf and it gives it a stronger texture and makes the flowers more robust.


You’ll see this is the Viridiflora group – ‘Spring Green’, ‘Flaming Spring Green’, ‘Red Spring Green’, ‘Groenland’, ‘Formosa’, ‘China Town’ and ‘Artist’, every one a good cut flower – and when these are crossed with the Lily-flowered forms, the same trait is there.


‘Green Star’ is one of these and a marvellous tulip which lasts at least ten days in a vase, as is ‘Florosa’, and the one tone deeper pink, ‘Virichic’, and even richer pink, ‘Doll’s Minuet’. They all hail from the same Lily X Viridiflora pedigree and are equally good and trusty.


Try ‘Exotic Emperor’ too — that’s invaluable for March and a hugely long-laster. followed by another double, ‘White Touch’ which is taking the Peony-flowered group by storm. Then look at the Parrot ‘Green Wave’. The Parrots make spectacular cut flowers anyway. I don’t know why more people don’t grow these, with blooms spreading wider than the palm of my hand and with ‘Green Wave’, the flowers last two weeks in a vase and well over a month in the garden.


Finally, there are a couple of oddities, which give you this same exceptional longevity. The first is ‘Purple Tower’, more like a mini globe artichoke than a tulip — strange, but handsome too. Then there’s the pinnacle of this stand-for-weeks tendency, the truly green one, ‘Evergreen’. This is the last tulip to flower in my garden, sometimes still going in June. It lasts three weeks in a vase and twice that – at least – flowering in the garden. It’s pricier than usual, but worth it. Think of it for a doorstep pot, which you see every day, or a border right by your front door, and it’s happy in sun, but thrives in a bit of shade. It’s a real plantsman’s tulip, a rarity, and hugely perennial, coming up here now for nearly a decade.

Thanks for reading!