Yes, it’s that time already to order bulbs for fall planting, which means thinking about the plans for SPRING! The first order was placed in late June and was mainly tulips…lots of tulips. Last spring, so many of the tulips bloomed at the same time, rather than early, mid and late and I’ve decided there was an overabundance of orange. I bet you never thought you’d hear that coming from me, but that was the case. There’s still shades of orange coming, but it’s being tempered with a bit of white. So, once again there will be early, mid and late tulips and we’ll hope they bloom at their proper time. And thought is given to short, medium and tall, plus variations of flower shape and texture. On the first order (Van Englelen) were:
“Sensual Touch” was on my “maybe” list last year, but lost out to “Prince Armin,” who proved to be not very long-lasting. You may recall that we had an unusual late snowfall last spring which was detrimental to the tulips, so maybe I’m being harsh. The single petal tulips all suffered losses, and looked like a sad smile with gaps where some teeth should be. The double-flowering tulips held up much better, and even if they lost a petal or two still looked attractive, so you’ll see more doubles on the list than before. “Sensual Touch” is fairly early (late April?) double, 16-18″ with luscious shades of orange blending to bright yellow fringed edges. There’s 50 of these coming and they’ll be planted in groups of 5 mostly in the Front Garden.
“Exotic Emperor” is also a double, fairly early (mid-April?) creamy white with green streaks, 20″. I haven’t grown these before either, but the 100 bulbs will be split between the Front Garden and the potager’s exterior border. I like the colors and some plants in these two gardens to be similar because visitors or passersby can see both of these at once. And some will go in the Front Island, which has never intentionally had tulips in the past due to the squirrel traffic in the two walnut trees that anchor it. However, last year some tulips showed up there and did well, so I’m willing to risk a few tulip bulbs to carry on the mostly white theme that the Front Island seems to need to echo the white flowering viburnums and the big alliums.
“Stunning Apricot” is a single late tulip that I’ve grown before (2017), and my notes indicate it was a little too pink, but I’m giving it another try because it was long-lasting, at least that year! Since it’s a bit later (late April into May that year) hopefully snow won’t be a problem. Apricot to coral, 28″ slightly taller, so they’ll be planted in the middle areas. 100 split between Front Garden and PEB.
“El Nino” was part of a “late blooming” package special grown in 2019, and rated a star beside its entry in my bloom journal, so it’s getting another go. Apricot/amber streaked with reds and orange, listed as 28″ but my journal says 30″ so they will be in the back. It’s also in the single late category, and the 100 bulbs will be divided between FG and PEB as well.
“Cretaceous” makes my list every year, and thankfully they were still available. Some flowers are a bit more yellow, and some a bit softer orange, but all of them are gorgeous and long-lasting. In 2019, their first appearance here, they began blooming on April 19. In 2020 we had a very cold, late spring and they didn’t open until May 10. In 2021, it was April 13. At 18-20″ and very double, from the “peony-flowered” category of tulips. 100 will be divided between Front Garden, the PEB, and some in the potager’s interior border. “Cretaceous” and “Sensusal Touch” may bloom at the same time and be somewhat similar, so there will be fewer “Cretaceous” needed in the Front Garden, allowing some for the PIB.
One hundred Tulip “Tang Dynasty” blend went into the Deck Garden the fall of 2019, and they bloomed so beautifully in spring 2020, that another 100 were planted that fall. This spring there were 178 lovely tulips, which means that 78% returned for a second performance! Another 100 will go into the Deck Garden this fall. Other than some early species tulips, these are the first tulips to bloom (April 5th last year) and are SUCH a welcome sight!
This single late tulip is destined for the Deck Garden. The one slight fault in “Tang Dynasty” is that the white tulips bloom first and are gone first, so I’m hoping by adding a few later white tulips the three color view will be extended…just 25.
To compensate for the varieties that were no longer available, a second order for 4 “new” tulips was submitted to Van Engelen’s recently, but only 2 were still available. The vision for the Front Island will be enhanced by these two white tulips:
The first is “Mondial,” a mid-April double white, the 100 bulbs divided between the Front Island, The Addition Garden, and the PIB. (Later note: this variety was unavailable at shipping time.)
Very similar to “Mondial,” the lovely “Mount Tacoma” will extend the white blooms into late April and early May (hopefully!) I had hoped for a taller, lily-flowered white or a fringed white, but they were both sold out. All these white tulips will indeed call for returning the shutters behind the Front Garden to a pristine white before spring! And then, there was an impulse purchase! A fourth order was placed with John Scheepers that included the following tulips:
Just 10 of these as a trial, but the tall, lily-flowered white with green streaks should help extend the season in the Front Island, along with a similar late-bloomer, “Spring Green.”
Only 10 of these as well, but if either or both do exceptionally well, there will be more on order EARLY next year.
And the big impulse purchase? One bed in the potager is being converted to tulips next spring, just for cutting.
Fifty of these luscious tulips will be grown in a potager bed, safe from the deer, just for cutting next spring. I just find it impossible to cut tulips from the gardens near the house, even when there are many, and I doubt the flimsy bunny fence around the Cutting Garden would deter the deer from nibbling off the buds, so change is in the air!
The alliums were such a blessing, blooming when there was little else so I need more. Remember in the Front Island, the steel blue-gray alliums (A. caesium) that bloomed the same time as the tall Scilla “Blue Arrow?” Fortunately, I remembered that I wanted more of those to balance out the bed. 10-16″ They began blooming May 27.
Allium “White Giant” was such a success in extending the season of bulbs in the Front Island, that 5 more are being added, just in case some of last season’s don’t return.
Last year, Allium “Purple Sensation” were planted in the middle area of the Front Garden in three groups. At 28-30″ tall, they looked quite grand, and I’m hoping they return for a repeat performance next spring but since I haven’t grown them before, I’m not sure. So, I’m hedging my bets with “Pinball Wizard” which is 24″ with a 6-8″ globe. Do your big alliums come back, or do you plant new ones each autumn?
That’s the plan for tulips and alliums….only 840 tulips plus some alliums, a bit less than usual. Many of the bulbs planted in prior years have naturalized and expanded, filling the spaces so there’s less need, plus more perennials and shrubs have been added here and there. My advice? Order early to avoid disappointment and being forced to revise your plans! I definitely won’t wait as long next year, and will get my orders in early!