Tulip Time

No, sadly I don’t have any tulips flowering but I have been busy planting my tulips in the garden and in pots in the greenhouse.

I ordered my bulbs very early this year, way back on the 25th April.  Why so early?  The company I buy my bulbs from operates a policy of delivering first to the people who ordered first unless you ask for a later time.  This year I wanted to experiment with timings for chilling tulips until flowering so needed to have the bulbs delivered early so that I could begin chilling them ASAP.

I buy my bulbs from Peter Nyssen partly because the prices are competitive especially if you buy 50 or more of any one variety and partly because they deliver to Italy.  I’ve always found the bulbs to be good quality.

All the tulips and the Paperwhite Narcissus were put in the fridge (luckily I have the use of one that isn’t my food fridge) on 21st September on a medium setting which should have guaranteed a temperature of less than 8°C.

I began planting into the ground yesterday; and have almost completed the task; I’ll share images when they flower – I can’t wait!

Planting around Rosa Tradescant

Planting around Rosa Tradescant

After planting the tulips I transplanted some Muscari from another bed that needed dividing and also seedlings of Euphorbia myrsinites, which will eventually provide ground cover but won’t stop the bulbs growing through it.  There are masses of self seeded Euphorbia in the gravel that I have been putting into modules so they can be planted out in early spring.

Some of the trays of Euphorbia I've been taking from the gravel

Some of the trays of Euphorbia I’ve been taking from the gravel

For the tulips I want to use as cut flowers I began planting into pots (Batches of 25 for the first planting on 16th of November) and batches of 15 for the 29th November and 6th December.  I still have more to plant after Christmas to hopefully have a nice long season of flowers to cut.  None are actually showing yet, but I hope very much that by the New Year some will be well on their way to flowering – I’ll just have to wait and see how long they take.  The greenhouse is only kept frost free but so far daytime temperatures have been  between 15 and 25°C.

These are the tulip pots

These are the tulip pots

The pot with green seedlings in has rocket (arugula) sown on the top of the soil; I can use it in salads until the tulips push through the soil or maybe I can even leave it while the tulips flower.

Last year the first tulips to pick were T. Exotic Emperor.  they had been planted into pots in the greenhouse but I didn’t keep very precise records except I picked them in the first week in February for aVoM.

T. Exotic Emperor in a vase on Monday 1st February 2016

T. Exotic Emperor in a vase on Monday 1st February 2016

T. Exotic Emperor was my favourite tulip last spring so I will have several timed pots growing to give me flowers over an extended period.  See my post about the first tulips this spring here

Have you planted bulbs this autumn.  What are your favourites?

 

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39 thoughts on “Tulip Time

  1. You are the tulip specialist, you always make such wonderful vases with them. I still haven’t finished planting mine. I usually get them in in November but I am late this year. The trouble is that no matter how many you order it is never enough. The best display I ever saw is at Ulting Wick in Essex. But they spend a couple of thousand pounds each year on them. I wouldn’ t like to be in charge of planting there.

    • You’re right that you do need a lot or plant them all together in one place to make a statement. In England I used to plant most on pots and just treat them as annuals. They’re not (or weren’t) so expensive. I can’t even buy nice ones as cut flowers here so I have to grow them – well that’s my excuse anyway!

  2. I managed to get my bulbs in in October, in between some very damp spells! I have planted mostly new daffodils and a few more parrot tulips too. Look forward to seeing how yours progress. 🙂

  3. I have lots of bulbs in the garden but no tulips as they don’t last long cos of our wet weather,but as I live about 1 km from the border with the Netherlands I go shopping there a lot. In Spring the tulips cost about 5 euro’s for 3 big bunches in all the colours you want. I am looking forward to yours when they will be in bloom.

      • Plants and flowers and so are a lot cheaper in The Netherlands, I watch Gardenersworld and when I hear what plants cost in the UK I am shocked !

        • most of our plants in the U.K. are grown in the Netherlands with subsidized fuel which makes it difficult for our growers to complete. Plus of course the Netherlands are very good at growing what people want. I would pay at least a Euro a stem for tulips in Italy.

  4. Christina is an expert on tulips and making them grow very fast. He works hard planting and tending his tulips, but then delights us with his wonderful flowers. I this year I could not plant anything because even though I had a few bulbs I was with one bad leg in late September early October. And when it was cured, the cold got cold and nothing could be planted. My favorite bulbs are the Iris and then the Tulips. But their Tulips are so special that they compete with the Iris. Greetings from Margarita.

      • Yes Christina, every year they grow up again. Even the Daffodils are born more years. Hyacinths are the ones that usually get less. And the Tulips this year were born normal size and then were born as six or eight small in red glued to the big. I had to have them separated by wilting and planting them alone, because this coming spring will grow large and will take away the others. No matter, there are many red tulips planted and other colors. Thank you Christina. Greetings from Margarita.

  5. The promise of spring! Rodents (voles) ate my Parrot tulips -arrgh! But I’ve managed to have a couple of years with an early species tulip in a dry part of the lawn. They’re sweet little things!

  6. Your pots are full of potential- how exciting to think of them flowering so early. For some reason I decided not to order bulbs this year – economy? – how crazy can one woman be? I realized the foolishness of this, and dashed out to buy Queen of the Night , Ballerina, and Purissima- just in time!!

    • i was rather extravagant this year; it will be the last year when I can buy so many. Did you hear Bunny Guinness say that she always waited until the bulb suppliers did last minute offers? I wouldn’t be able to chill them if I did that but maybe it would be worth waiting for some things.

  7. Your Exotic Emperor is so beautiful. I love the spring bulb flowers but hate planting them. I have planted one pot of Camassia (not the variety I wanted) and that is all. Perhaps I will make more of an effort next year. I did reposition some of our daffodils in the spring so perhaps that counts. Amelia

    • Planting bulbs is tedious. When we lived in England I just planted tulips in pots, that’s really easy. I treated them as annuals but Sarah Raven says they should last a couple of years.

  8. There’s nothing like bulbs to spur feelings of hopeful anticipation. I look forward to seeing your beautiful tulips next year, Christina. Much as I love them, they’ve repeatedly proven to be a bad investment here but I did plant more freesia and I picked up a few Watsonia this week, which I hope to get into the ground this weekend.

  9. ‘Exotic Emporer’ is lovely. What else did you plant this year? As you may recall, I planted 210 tulips in pots this year, also a bunch of Muscari. My favorite tulips: ‘Couleur Cardinal’, ‘Princess Irene’, and ‘Ballerina’.

    • I’ll write about all the tulips I’ve planted as they flower. I have chosen Princess Irene this year after seeing her in your blog. Coulée Cardinal didn’t perform at all well for me last year.

  10. It’s inspiring to see your tulips going in, and even more so to see your plans for using Euphorbia myrsinites for cover. I have focused on mild-winter Narcissus this year (also Freesia alba), but have not yet decided what to use over them. Ground cover plants that survive from year to year seem to be few here. I’m using a couple of Australian plants in some spots, but I think they will prove too vigorous to grow over my bulbs…

  11. Well how interesting. I have just gone mad and ordered 130 tulip bulbs from Sarah raven. Couldn’t resist sale prices. It has poured here today so I have put them in the garage to await pots. Dreaming of lasagne of the tulip kind!

    • SR has some lovely collections of tulips, but they’re rather expensive in comparison to Peter Nyssen. Because I need to chill my bulbs before planting to get good results I can’t wait for bargains. I’ll look forward to seeing your ‘lasagne’!

  12. I’m glad to see so many of your tulips going into the ground, it’s always such a show and comes at a time of year which gives me hope for spring as well!
    My last tulips went into the ground last weekend and this weekend we are expecting below-freezing temperatures all day and a few inches of snow. My timing does not usually end up working out like this.

  13. 25th April – Good Grief Christina! The new catalogue doesn’t even come till early summer – when did your order get delivered? I know you said you were going to experiment this year and with the details you are keeping it will help you (and no doubt us too) plan longer flowering seasons in future. This year I have added up to 100 in the shrub border, hopefully varieties that will last at least a few years, and most of the others in pots in two batches in Oct and Nov, with the second batch chilled. Exotic Emperor really is stunning – don’t know why I didn’t make a note of it last year

    • I Know, I know! The online catalogue must have been available and they must have notified me that it was. I wanted an early delivery to be able to chill them for long enough. Last year even those I planted into the garden after chilling flowered well before those that were already in the ground. Even I was surprised to see how early I had my first vase of tulips last year; as they aren’t even showing above the soil yet I don’t know if they will be as early this year. Exotic Emperor was a amazing last year, not just because it was so beautiful but it kept its petals for ages in the vase and in the garden. With your colder autumns you don’t have the same need to chill the bulbs before planting.

  14. So a lot of work and planning goes on behind the scenes of your gorgeous tulip displays! I am looking forward to seeing your garden next spring! Generally, tulips don’t do well here, though if properly chilled they make spectacular annuals.

    • Tulips will grow planted in the ground and in fact repeat well following years; the only problem is the chill doesn’t happen until January usually do the bulbs flower late. By planting some chilled bulbs and having others in the ground from previous years the flowering period is lengthened considerably.

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