I live in a condo now. I do not have land. I do not even have a balcony. This is probably the only thing saving me from a fall time madness that would have only been exacerbated by my current virtual challenge (a walk along the flower road in the Netherlands). In late summer, I used to get a catalogue from Breck’s Bulbs. I would play a little game with myself, saying that I am only allowed to buy one item on every two pages. So, I’d mark those flowers. Then came an imaginary budget cut, and it was one item every four pages, and I’d narrow the selection again. Then finally, I would be only allowed a single flower, but I would be allowed to order hundreds of them, enough to fill an entire bed.
I didn’t get my catalogue this year, but the pictures I’m seeing on the street views of this virtual challenge have compelled with me to make a list of the top nine tulips of this moment for me. I’m not planting a garden that matches, just nine different blooms I love, that mostly clash with each other.
If you mouse over each of these, they’ll flip and tell you their names, but feel free to fall in love based on looks alone.
Alba Coerula Occulata
This is an exceptionally beautiful tulip. The goblet-shaped bloom has brilliant white-pointed petals have a deep blue heart… such an unusual colour combination! These glittering stars are sure to stand out in your garden. Plant these dainty gems once and they will come back year after year. They are add color and interest to rock gardens or the front of borders.
It looks like raspberry-ripple ice cream. This is one of the most dramatic of modern parrots, with a whirling-dervish intensity. It is eye-catching in every setting. It has ruffled petals in bold red and white color. This cupped flower is cut unevenly and comes in beautiful color combination splashed with red and pink and has grey green leaves.
Reminicent of roses or peonies, these stunning double late tulips feature full blooms packed with petals. Angelique tulips will grace your garden with their delicate blush pink flowers, trimmed in white and offset by yellow centres and stamens.
Growing between 16-20 inches tall, Angelique is just what your late spring garden has been waiting for!
The Apricot Beauty might be my all time favourite, romance in bloom. “Delectable anywhere,” writes garden-guru Ann Lovejoy, “it should be planted by the bagful.” Lightly fragrant and winner of multiple awards including the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit, this popular tulip has been celebrated for its dreamy and unusual color for over 60 years.
You’ll find that these gigantic fringed blooms will start to appear in late spring. They should be planted at the back of your borders in a sheltered spot—they’re so tall and heavy that they tend to tip over on windy days. Pure white double blooms with fringed petals glitter in the light, catching your eye. The outer petals have a green stripe that runs through to the bottom.
White petals emerge from a base of deep pink petals. Blooms do not open completely giving the impression of an ice cream cone. A perennial favourite, these spectacular blooms are also known as peony tulips due to their large number of petals. Sporting vivid colors atop tall stems, these beauties offer a long-lasting accent you can’t tear your eyes away from.
Did you see this knockout in The New York Times? Like a sunrise in slow motion, it opens with baby-smooth, pale yellow petals feathered with rose, and then day by day it transforms itself into a big, ruffled flower of creamy white flamed with purple. You will be enchanted! Once it reaches its final form, it’s like a painting. This is a true broken tulip, and terribly rare in gardens today.
Jan Van Nes
Sometimes more IS better! As if this jaw droppingly flamboyant parrot type needed any help garnering attention, it sports a truly showstopping, golden yellow color and spring green accents that steal the spotlight. Jan van Nes boasts a gorgeous, full flower form, heavily feathered petals and a carefree nature. Admit it, you’re just saying, “Tulips come in yellow and green?”
If you’d like to win garden of the year, plant this Vovos tulip! Or keep it to yourself as a secret pleasure. The fullness of the blooms mixed with a peach-lavender color palette is like nothing you’ve ever seen. You want a Victorian tearoom filled with them! They look so complex but are easy to grow. Just make sure they get lots of sun and love!