Worth it


acuminataEvery year I try to plant a few T. acuminata (these from Brent and Beckys) in the front yard. They’re expensive as tulips go—about 4-5 bucks a bulb—and are considered heirloom. Most of the bulb experts seem to think they are an older hybrid, not a wild tulip, but their exact origins are a bit murky. Anna Pavord is a fan; she writes about them as being “spidery and mad.” Brent and Beckys thinks they date to 1813; Old House Gardens sees them as a survivor of the c. 1700s thin-petal tulip craze.

And not only are they expensive, they’re fussy. I put 5 in every year, but for whatever reason, they often fail to emerge. It’s a very exciting event when they do. This year’s are quite tall—I would say about 30”.

Moulin Rouge from Longfield Gardens
Moulin Rouge from Longfield Gardens

Spring does not exist without tulips as far as I’m concerned. Indeed, when winter transitions directly into summer, as it did this year, I need tulips to help me pretend that spring happened.

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Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. If they make your heart sing, they are absolutely worth it. The anticipation alone every year to see if they emerge is enough to keep your heart rate up for days.

  2. tulips…. sigh. i remember them. i used to love them till we moved to the boonies. but they are such deer candy that even tulips planted in planters on the front steps get munched.

  3. Well, you pay for your pleasure, don’t you? IMHO, there are far worse things you could be spending your money on, Elizabeth……

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