It looks like the deer won. I gave a talk at a suburban garden club last week, and, to a woman, all the gardeners there told me they don’t bother trying to grow tulips anymore. No matter what they do, the bulbs get eaten, as soon as they start to emerge. You can’t really fence off your front yard—well, you can, but it’s not a great look in most cases—and the constant reapplication of smelly remedies gets to be a drag. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it.
Of course, I don’t have to. Deer do not roam freely through my part of Buffalo, so April-May are the most fervently anticipated months of my gardening year. Amazingly, the potted bulbs in my (unheated) garage survived the winter, and are coming up, albeit slowly. And the new species tulips I planted in my redesigned front beds are blooming, starting with the early t. tarda (I think) and t. turkistanica, above.
To me, this is just one more of the countless advantages of city living. It is the only time of year my deeply shaded front yard is filled with bright color. The beds are planted with the species (as well as erythronium, eranthis, muscari, and scilla) and two big clumps of hybrids, which also appear in big pots.
But even in the city, I don’t see as many tulips as I’d like. Maybe gardeners feel they’re too short-lived. But that’s part of their appeal—for me, anyway. Even if I could plant the entire garden once with a mix of perennials that would never need to be replaced, ever, I wouldn’t. Bore. Ing.