Yes, every year is the same; I go on and on about these understated members of a show-off plant group. The fact is, I still don’t see these used enough. They come up about the same time as daffodils (most of them) and provide reliable spring color at a time it’s needed most. They have cool names—sylvestris! turkistanica! vvedenskyi!—that I find much more interesting than “Blushing Beauty” or “Big Smile” (as worthy as these hybrids are).
Species tulips are said to perennialize better; I am not sure I can speak to that. I refresh my plantings on a yearly basis and can testify that I have seen varieties like t. clusiana and t. dasystemon persist and maybe spread over at least ten years. But, again, I’m always planting; that’s the reality one must accept with tulips of any kind.
And they’re not always dainty. T. vvedenskyi has big flowers that age very interestingly into large red claws. Tulips that I group with species, as they are also quite early, are the greigii cultivars. Even catalog verbiage can’t praise these enough. My front garden never gets the baking that all tulips—but especially hybrids— need, so, too often, after a couple years, I get foliage and no flowers. Not a problem with some of the greigii, as this group produces foliage that’s almost as striking as its blooms. Maybe just as.
Finally, one of the species, t. acuminata (said to be a 1813 introduction), can compete with allium vineale ‘Hair’ for weirdness. Anna Pavord calls it “spidery and mad,” and I agree. It’s also one of the last tulips of any kind to come up, further setting it apart. I’ve taken pictures of it in June.
Species tulips are lower in visual impact but they’re also lower in foliage; it tends to be minimal and it declines quickly. My goal is to have a front garden filled for a few weeks with every different type. I’m not there yet.