Monday 10 September 2012

Tulips: Tangerine Dreams

Having extolled the virtues of those dark delights in the tulip world, partnered with the soft and sophisticated in shades of mauve, purple and white, I decided to break out with a citrus fest.  Personally I just love orange tulips; they are such a loud celebration of spring, and I just adore how they scream for attention in the spring garden.  I remember a wonderful picture of Tulipa ‘General de Wet’ (burnt orange) partnered with blue forget-me-nots in a book that bleated on about the colour wheel.  Personally I think calculated combinations are too contrived – unless of course they work; which this one does! I think my love of orange may be a bit of a boy’s thing? But I’m going to share a few favorites with you and get your opinion ………..

I’ll start softly by recommending Tulip ‘Dordogne’(above), a cousin of my beloved ‘Menton’.  It has the same large, single, globular flowers but in a wonderful shade of coral-orange.  In some lights they are more pink, and sometimes more orange but always with a hint of gold towards the edge of the petals.  This tulip is just as long-lasting as ‘Menton’.

‘Daydream’ is a tulip I have grown occasionally over the years. This is a surprising character that opens clear yellow in typical Darwin tulip fashion.  Its always a bit of a shock to the system “I don’t remember planting yellow tulips!” I hear myself exclaim. Its not that I don't like yellow - I would never choose yellow tulips because there is so much yellow around from daffodils, forsythia and the like.
Last year I planted it quite by chance with a few Narcissus ‘Jetfire’, that sprightly dwarf daffodil with reflexed golden petals and a bright orange trumpet.  This was a happy co-incidence as after a few days of yellow elegance the flower form softens and opens and the blooms change to soft orange. I positioned it against a blue grey pot with a yellow-striped yucca but I think it would have worked just as well with any golden variegated evergreen in the border.

You can buy ‘Menton’, ‘Dordogne’ and ‘Daydream’, and other great varieties as super-sized 14+ bulbs online

Don't leave it too long - they are selling fast!

Tulipa ‘Sensual Touch’ was another real surprise. So many double tulips and daffodils fall apart when wind and rain hits them. This one was strong, weather resistant and extremely long lasting. The double, fringed, soft orange flowers were beautiful as they opened, and ravishing when fully expanded. Layers and layers of silky petals punctuated with dark stamens were reminiscent of a can-can dancer’s skirt.  This tulip changed my opinion of double tulips – I will definitely grow it again.

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’ is one of my all-time favourites. Delicious glowing orange blooms with sleek pointed petals on strong 50cm stems. I love it rising out of a cloud of blue forget-me-nots or towering above a ruff of dark purple heucheras.  Last year I grew it in simple terracotta pots with just a few Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’ thrown in for drama. Against the cream rendered wall of the house it was heart-stoppingly stunning; especially when the sun made it cast bold shadows across the wall.  It reminded me that often the simplest combinations work the best. There is no need to get too clever with great planting partnerships.

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