The Spring walk and a bit of tulip madness

The tulips are two or possibly three weeks late flowering this year and it is noticeable that the ones planted as additions to the spring walk in November 2014 have flowered earlier than those planted the year before. 

In fact the only part of the spring walk that deserves the name at the moment is the part under the fig tree.  But there is a problem this year that I’ve never experienced before.  Moles are tunnelling around where the bulbs are planted and either they are chewing through the stems of the tulips underground or mice or worse rats are then using the tunnels and eating the stems.  I will try digging up the bulb next time I discover one to check if the bulb is being eaten.

The drooping stems are the sign that the stem has been eaten through underground

The drooping stems are the sign that the stem has been eaten through underground. T. Purple Dream

This is rather spoiling my pleasure in walking around the garden to look at the tulips because I just don’t know how many broken stems I will find.

New part of the spring walk under the fig tree

New part of the spring walk under the fig tree

Under the fig looking in the opposite direction

Under the fig looking in the opposite direction towards the Mulberry

Last year's planting of T. Ballerina in the Spring walk

Last year’s planting of T. Ballerina in the Spring walk

T. Ballerina with Viburnum burkwoodii

T. Ballerina with Viburnum burkwoodii

The small island with new T. Ballerina and existing T.

The small island with new T. Ballerina and existing T. Abus Hassan and in the background,  T. Brown Sugar

Box balls with T. Jan Reis

Box balls with T. Jan Reis

I’ll tell you about the problem with the box balls another day.


T. Purple Dream and White Muscari

From the terrace looking south (the formal beds are to the left

From the terrace looking south (the formal beds are to the left

T. Negrita in the forground in the Large Island and behind in the Circular rose bed

T. Negrita in the forground in the Large Island and behind in the Circular rose bed

I hope you’ve enjoyed this taste of the tulips flowering at present, I’m sure they’ll be several more posts about them, I hope you won’t mind.  Have a lovely weekend and may the weather be perfect for gardening!

44 thoughts on “The Spring walk and a bit of tulip madness

  1. Sorry about the moles. We have sporadic mole problems but so far they stick to the grassy areas and I’ve learnt to live with them. The V. burkwoodii is a perfect foil for the tulips. Amelia

    • The Viburnum has grown a lot in the last year, must be due to all the rain last year, it is now doing exactly what I hoped it would and breaking the line of the hedge. It smells wonderful too.

  2. So sorry you’re seeing mole problems. They’re a real nuisance. The tulips are wonderful and I like your color combinations. The rich red of T. Jan Reis is especially nice.

  3. You can never overdo posting about your showy tulips. So sorry about the nibbling vermin. I doubt it is moles doing the actual damage, as they are insectivores. Here, it is gophers doing the damage. I have nearly given up on tulips as a result. I am soaking up the beauty of yours.

    • As I wrote to Frank, I know the moles are insectivores but there are definitely mole tunnels where the damage is happening so either the moles eat through the stems while make the tunnel or mice or rats are coming into the tunnels afterwards. I’ll know more when I dig up where the damage is occurring. If the bulbs are eaten then its mice or rats for sure!

  4. The tulips are beautiful. I do hope the critters haven’t caused irreparable damage…it’s one thing to have a flower stem damaged this season, but terrible if the bulb is ruined as a result. The combination of the orange hued tulips and viburnum is especially lovely. I really do like T. Brown Sugar !

    • ‘Brown Sugar’ is a joy, and this is its third or forth year and they keep coming up strong and tall, they don’t seem to divide like Negrita for instance.

  5. wow, love it. I’ve been looking forward to this post, but I’ve been worried about your mentions of tunneling and burrows in the tulip plantings. Glad to see that things are coming along in spite of the animal attacks. I would have to agree it doesn’t sound like a mole problem.
    The view from your terrace is fantastic with the tulips all coming into bloom. I think I need to go out and scold my own, they surely could do better 🙂

    • It is lovely to hear your enthusiasm Frank! I know the moles don’t eat vegetation but they might damage the stems when they are tunnelling. I love the way the tulips are reproducing now so that where there was one bulb there are now 4 flowers.

  6. Despite the damage you’re seeing, Christina, they look gorgeous. Just one tulip is enough to excite me so your display causes heart palpitations (and considerable envy despite the vermin problem). I hope you can send the nasty critters packing!

  7. I won’t mind at all Christina… the more tulip posts the better! 🙂 I love your colour combinations. I hope the bulb damage is not too great. I always lose a few each year to mice, voles or moles or even squirrels, but have never seen that stem damage. I also lose some flowers to birds that peck the heads off! I have no idea why they do it, as I have watched them and it doesn’t seem there are any insects in it and the flower itself is left lying on the ground!

    • This is the first time I’ve had loses like this so it is a bit disheartening to go out and find limp stems that just pull out of the ground. Birds have sometimes damaged the wisteria which I think was either aphids or drops of water that they were drinking and in doing so picking off the flowers.

  8. For the first time in this garden I have had a problem with mice and tulip bulbs, and have lost quite a few. I dont think the wet winter helped either. They climbed into the pots! Lovely to see Ballerina and Abu Hassan, they are such elegant tulips.

  9. How sad to see your tulip damage – I hope it just stays a small area. I love the way you have used your tulips. I just have individual clumps, but I think I will buy more of one type next year as it really joins the garden together. I love your orange tulip combinations too – hope you don’t mind me copying that too. I have made a note of the varieties for next year. A lovely post.

    • I wanted the spring walk to be a riot of colour not in organised groups but with enough of each to give a strong effect. I’ll write about it more in my next tulip post. I certainly don’t mind you copying anything you see in my garden, I’m flattered you want to copy it!

  10. I don’t remember seeing that view from the terrace before, it’s lovely.
    I responded to your comment on rusty duck yesterday with a possible solution to the problem if it’s mice.. it’s worked for me. Trick is to tackle the problem at the start. Mice breed like crazy!

    • Thanks for the info re the mice, I think I might try even though being in the country there are lots of mice around in the fields. It might be better to act against the moles because mice don’t dig their own tunnels do they? The view you like is the one I look at most because it is from where the table we use most is, can’t imagine why I don’t photograph it more.

      • I’m pretty sure they do dig their own tunnels, there are plenty here and as far as I know we don’t have any moles. They’ve tunnelled into the greenhouse too, going in under paving slabs.
        Being in a rural location is definitely an issue. I do feel that whatever we try here will just create a territory ‘open point’ which others will move in and occupy.
        The other solution is a cat. I’ve resisted that up to now mainly because I don’t want the responsibility. Or the partially deceased mice in the house!

        • We have lots of visiting cats here and many people have cats which seem semi wild. By that I mean they don’t feed them hugely so they do hunt mice etc. for food rather than just because they are following their instinct. But even though there seem to be more this year they aren’t dealing with the mice!

  11. Tulip madness is a malady I certainly share, you can’t have too many tulips for me. I love ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Abus Hassan’ – two for my list this fall! The purple tulips also look great with the California Poppies.

  12. Your tulips are looking wonderful. So many beauties. Strange to have busy moles now, mine seem to be active in Winter. I think voles and mice use their runs to get at the nice juicy bulbs.

    • The moles are active in spring here usually especially if the farmer is ploughing, they then seem to come into the garden to get away. This winter though there have been signs of them all the time. I think they have caused the death of a Leylandii in the hedge which is a bit of a problem.

  13. The tulips are looking so beautiful despite the predations of the moles and co.,, especially Brown Sugar. I have no answer to the problem-I have the same critters and lost a good proportion of my tulips last autumn when I planted them in pots. The gnawers seemed to prefer all the more expensive ones.There must be something very appealing to them about tulips. Looking forward to seeing more pictures from your lovely garden-there can never be too many tulip pictures/

  14. Oh what a shame as you were so looking forward to your spring border, as were the rest of us after your lovely pictures last year 😦 But at least most are still OK and how lovely to have them procreating too – and I know what you mean about the smaller flowers..I am sure my Fur Elise (now in their third year) in pots have got smaller flowers than before

    • Slightly smaller flowers but 3 or 4 or even 5 per bulb is perfect in the garden I think, I wonder if I will have to divide then like muscari or snowdrops if they clump up any more.

  15. Some beautiful tulips, Christina. I plant new combinations, mostly in containers each autumn which then get moved to the borders. Moles are a serious problem around here but we’ve managed to control them for them time being. Pity they make these heaps and stir things up as they’re the most useful creatures.

  16. Oh your tulips are making fabulous splashes of colour Christina. I imagine that much hard work went into planting them so it must be so frustrating to suffer damage by unknown creatures. I hope that you can identify the culprit soon and come come up with an effective solution.

  17. Your tulips are wonderful! I was looking forward to your spring walk, and you have not dissapointed. Your moles sound like my voles! These critters saw through roots, cleanly decapitating a plant as though a surgical knife had been used! Our cat routinely kills voles, and I am sure she has saved many plants. However, we are in vole country, and there is no way to get rid of them all.

    • I have now dug down and can’t find any bulbs so it seems mice, rats or possibly voles are eating the bulbs. There are quite a lot of cat visitors but they don’t seem to be helping the situation.

  18. I’m so sorry you are having wee creature problems Christina, it’s so annoying when they just seem to destroy plants, I hope you can do something to stop them, however, you show some beautiful photos of your tulips, they do have jewel like colours sparkling in the sun, Frances

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