Finally, the last of the bulbs are in the ground. Recent thunderstorms have made it a challenge to complete, but it’s finished and can be marked off the “TO DO” list. The crocus “Cream Beauty” are always included. Although they are good at repeat performance, each year I add 100 to be able to plant additional spots and to replace those eaten by critters or that rot over winter in our cold clay soils. The perky Tulip batalinii “Bright Gem” are a staple for the potager’s two central paths’ edges. They are just so darned cute, with their big flowers on tiny plants. I smile every time I see them. Barring extreme weather, they are long-lasting as well, and it’s certain that the fairies love them.
Otherwise, this year’s selections were a bit different from past years. After careful observation of the past three year’s show, it was decided that more color was needed later in May rather than early May when some daffodils are in full force. To remedy that, a collection of 300 late May tulips was ordered, and the number of earlier tulips was reduced to only two very choice varieties. The big winner last year was a new one, “Foxy Foxtrot,” a double-flowered early beauty in my favorite color, marmalade orange with shading to lemon yellow and apricot. It edged out the previous favorite “Charming Beauty” because it seemed to last a bit longer and was just a tad brighter. Only 12-14″ tall, Foxy Foxtrot is a standout in the front edges so, this year their number was doubled so they could be planted in the Front Garden, in the conspicuous part of the Deck Garden, and in the potager’s interior border. “Foxy” bloomed in late April last year into early May, just as the early daffodils were disappearing. In those same areas groups of Triumph (a cross between Darwin and Early tulips) “Annie Schilder” went in. Isn’t she gorgeous! Just luminous! “Annie” is a luscious warm orange with a deeper orange interior and a yellow base. At 18″ she goes behind the “Foxy” plantings and struts her stuff from the very end of April into the second week of May.
So, now we come to the newcomers to the gardens here, the “Late May” collection from Van Engelen which is made of 6 tall (28-30″) tulips (50 of each) that will go in the back of borders. By the time they are fading the perennials will nicely hide their browning foliage, but the flowers will easily float above any emerging perennials. The two shortest of the group (28″) are Tulip “El Nino” and Tulip “Hocus Pocus.” “El Nino” is a luscious apricot amber so it will go behind the groupings of “Annie Schilder” due to its height. It should be perfect against the paler apricot brick of the house. A few will also go into the potager interior border, to add some late color before the alliums bloom. Because of its bright yellow petals with red streaks, “Hocus Pocus” is a departure from the normal palette of apricots and oranges, so they will go into the Front Island, and a few in the potager exterior border. Tulip “Blushing Lady” is one I’ve had before, and a few of them actually returned for an encore performance the following year, something that does not usually happen here with any but the species tulips. It’s going into the back of the potager’s exterior border, where its pale yellow petals with pale rose shading will stand out against the fence. And a few of them went into the Front Island along with “Hocus Pocus” since they are similar.
Three 30″ varieties were mixed together before planting in the potager’s interior border, largely where the tallest dahlias came out. Tulip “Big Brother” is listed as apricot-salmon. I’m hoping it’s not too pink! “Tulip “Temple of Beauty” is salmon-rose, although in this photo from Van Englelen’s website it appears more orange, and I’m hoping that will be the case. However, I suspect it will be too pink for my tastes, but it was part of the collection ordered, so it gets a chance. “Tulip “Temple’s Favorite” (sorry, no photo) is nasturtium orange, so I expect to love it! Also in the Front Island, because it is lightly shaded on the north side went 12-15″ Hyacinthoides “Excelsior” with it’s purple-blue spikes. It’s deer and rodent repellent, and I’m hoping the squirrels that visit the black walnut trees there will avoid not only them but the tulips as well! Wishful thinking? They are listed as blooming in May, so we’ll just have to wait to see exactly when in May that happens. And, hopefully they will naturalize a bit. I received 2 huge (the size of duck eggs) hyacinthoid bulbs “Blue Arrow” as a gift from Simple Pleasures Bulbs & Perennials. Unfortunately the packaging doesn’t say how tall they will be but judging from the bulb size, I’m guessing 2′ or more so they are also in the Front Island.
Also in the potager’s interior border went 10 white allium “Ping Pong.” The majority of allium bulbs planted there in the past two years have rotted, so I’ve raised the soil level a bit and will try them again. Wish them luck! That’s 837 bulbs, and I ran out before any were planted in the North or South Islands, the Cutting Garden, or under the Lady Cottage’s window box area! I guess I should have ordered more! Maybe I’ll just check to see if there are any “end of the season” sales going on….