tulip Queen of night close up



The main ‘rule’ with tulips is that you can never have too many tulips!


They are an absolute garden essential. They are one of the simplest plants to grow, just stick the bulb in the ground (pointy end up) in the autumn and wait for the spring.


There are so many types to choose from so which are the best performers?


Well as a general rule we prefer the simpler shapes, because not only do they look really elegant, the flower heads aren’t too heavy and droop after a spring shower.


Many gardening books state that you need to replace your tulips every year to keep the display looking amazing. Well we don’t really agree with that – it’s expensive! The tulips should keep flowering for several years, but what you tend to find is that the flower heads get a little smaller, but they are still as pretty, just not as big.


The two pictures here are of 5 year old tulips from my garden.


If you want to get a good display each year without having to replace the bulbs (unless you want to of course):

  • Initially plant the bulbs deep 10cms and no cheating – it will help them to flower.
  • When the petals have fallen off, snap the seed head off the top to stop it using energy making seeds.
  • Cut the finished flower stem off at the first set of leaves, but don’t remove the leaves.
  • Only remove the leaves once they are really yellow.
  • Lastly when planting, have a theme for your bulbs, so mix a 2-3 colours or use a similar colour but mix the shapes heights and flowering times.
  • When we say more is better, we only mean it if you haven’t bunged in a kaleidoscope of every colour of the rainbow in one place.

Tulips are elegant plant diva’s, give them a place in the sun, plants to show off against and you will have a display to be proud of.

Lastly, please no regimented straight line planting of bulbs, it looks awful a natural style is definitely best!

We use tulips in the following designs, but that’s only the start:

spring smiles black and cream sensual


Any garden without tulips is missing something – a bit like dressing up for dinner or a night out and forgetting to put your jewellery on.  They are meant to pop up and yell ‘look at me I’m a drama queen’. 


Tulips catch your attention when not a great deal of large sized flowers are out.  Their role is to get noticed for a short time and then they can slip off when other longer flowered plants start performing.


However, drama queen does not mean diva, some tulips are horrible, over bred, fussy, frilly, too much makeup and end up looking like a fashion disaster. 


Don’t think more colour is best, think how best to use the colour.

Here for example, the tulips are off white, classy but not dull.


tulip white triumphator flower sq crop


Tulips here (and yes I know its a not your average back garden plot), at Arundel Castle, have been planted to be drama queens. They scream look at me, but do so tastefully, with complimentary colours and similar shape flowers.


Arundel Tulips


Not too much petal fluff and frill, but you definitely know they are there!


Do not just buy anything and plonk it in, think 2-3 complimentary colours but use similar shaped blooms, choose one colour and go for different shaped tulip flowers, or clash 2 colours together.


Whatever you chose to do throw the bulbs onto the soil and plant where they fall, random is what nature does, and more is definitely better.


I know I said tulips were drama queens, but they do not stop the show by themselves, so plant as many as you can afford.

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