It's April! Have you ordered your bulbs yet? I don't typically plant a lot of bulbs each year, but I always get some. I like to try something new or add more of a favorite that's done well for me in the past. Since I also like to order from specialty nurseries like Old House Gardens, Brent and Becky's Bulbs and Odyssey Bulbs, I know that I will be out of luck if I wait until summer to place my order. So for the last few years, I've been ordering my fall-planted bulbs in March. This year I'm getting two Tulip varieties that I've looked at in the past and decided now's the moment to try them.
OHG says this heirloom plant is violet-scented with "small, yellow, almond-shaped flowers that nod in bud and then open wide in the sun. Gerard pictured it in his great Herbal of 1597" and Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. Also known as the ""Florentine Tulip," T. sylvestris grows 8-14 inches tall and is hardy in zones 5a-8a.
This Tulip is unusual in that it is generally considered a perennial performer if it is happy and it is often grown in woodland settings. I am thinking of trying some bulbs near Erythronium 'Pagoda" and purple Epimediums and others near some pink and yellow Erythroniums and Fritillaries.
What I need to do next is take photos this spring so I know where to plant the bulbs when the arrive in the fall. And I need to mark those spots in some way as well.
According to "The Plant Lover's Guide to Tulips" from the Kew series of guide books, T. whittallii is a species Tulip that is supposedly one of the best that can be grown in the open garden. It blooms in various shades of orange set off with a dark, round heart and is up to 12" tall with narrow leaves. The book notes that though it comes from Turkey, it is "surprisingly adaptable to cooler, wetter regions."
I planted a clumps of bronze and orange Tulips under our weeping purple Beech last fall. I put them in a rough row behind a swath of Astilbes. I am hoping I can shoehorn T. wittallii bulbs among the Astilbes which will hide the dying foliage. I like the idea of slightly shorter, more delicate Tulips contrasting with the big blowzy ones.
The leaves of the purple Beech unfurl in lovely warm peach color with mauve and bronze overlay. The Astilbes emerge with very dark foliage — all of which should do well with the Tulip colors. Certainly it looks fabulous in my mind's eye. We will see how it looks in person eventually.