Enjoy them while they last. I wish everything could be like bulbs. Last month I dragged a bunch of big pots out of my garage; this month they’re providing a bright ribbon of color around the otherwise immature green of my back garden. In the front yard, the combination of tulips, late daffodils, and early perennials make the last big pop before the deep shade of the surrounding maples takes over.
This week the NY Times Magazine had a salute to tulips from an unusual perspective—the air above Holland. Here’s the slide show by photographer Julian Faulhaber. Images like these make me wonder if I should take a more formal or minimalist approach—choose 3, 2, or even 1 colors and stick with a plan. It will never happen, of course. What does happen is that the bulbs themselves guide me in certain directions. All the clusiana are very reliable returners so I will likely keep planting them, even though I don’t love them as much as the whittali. I should probably give up on the acuminata and the humilis “alba coerulea oculata.”
And I’ll always have my fads. Right now I’m in love with t. gregii “Fire of Love.” My big “what was I thinking” this season is the inexplicable pairing (in a couple containers) of Prinses Irene and Synaeda Amor. I thought it would be orange and purple, but it’s more like orange and pink—the kind of dull, muddy pink I don’t like. Ouch.
In the Times piece, the comment was that tulips keep us sane when winter doesn’t quite want to loosen its grip. That was certainly true in the dreary chill of yesterday, which also happened to be Bloom Day. For me, the 5/15 GBBD will always be about tulips, as much as I love brunnera, epimedium, hellebores, pulmonaria, and all the other early perennials—not to mention shrubs and trees—they will always be the context, not the stars. But the context is important. (Eventually a big field of tulips gets kind of boring. Even from the air.)