Early Spring Divas
Having always been attracted to the blowsy and overblown, Parrot tulips are the perfect flowers for me. I treated myself in the fall and bought a big packet of bulbs that I planted into at least five different pots. Now, as early spring arrives, they are unfurling in all their gaudy splendor.
Parrot tulips are so called because of their wonderful color combinations, with yellow being the base color in this particular collection. I’m seeing orange and yellow, yellow on yellow, subtle pinks and blushing apricot. Of course, you can also find other color combinations, like Flaming Parrot which is a red and white cultivar. The petals are larger than most other tulips, with frilly edges.
Most of my pots are outside but I had to bring one inside to sit in my bay window next to a glowing pink orchid, just so I could look at the opening flowers more often. They make a great combination, softened by the misty weather outside. The pots outside are sitting on the steps, keeping good company with some delicious looking daffodils.
These spectacular plants are early bloomers so will be over in ten days or so, but tulips come in all varieties and, if you get it right you can have tulips flowering from early spring to mid summer. This fall I’ll buy some late season bloomers and extend the pleasure of their company.
Last year I planted tulips in individual pots but I think they look far better in groups. I would love to grow them en masse in the garden but critters like them far too much in this neck of the woods. When I was in New York last spring I saw plenty of them in the parks and they were really eye-catching. Tulip bulbs are plentiful and reasonably priced so are the perfect choice for grand scale plantings.
Tulips were first grown in gardens in Persia in the tenth century. Since then they’ve been spread around the world with mixed success, depending on the climate. They come from mountainous regions with temperate climates and cold winters, and don’t last well through warm winters. I used to grow them in Zimbabwe but there they were strictly annuals. Having said that, however, some of my tulips from last year are blooming again, despite the fact that zone 9 should be too warm for them. I did lose a lot of the bulbs to mold during their dormant season though. No matter. I shall love them now, grow them on and hope that I get a repeat performance of these spectacular beauties in a couple of years.
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