Monday, November 12, 2018

TULIPS ON MY MIND

Earlier this week I was watching Carol Klein's Plant Odyssey about the tulip. When she visited the dry mountainous regions of Turkey where the original tulips grew I was reminded of the only tulips I can grow in my garden in Texas, the species tulips. These are the most perennial of all tulips and have been returning year after year in my gravelly garden, multiplying slowly over the years.


To be successful they demand extremely good drainage and if planted in regular garden soil will rot. I have had that happen on more than one occasion. The most successful location has been alongside a claret cup cactus clump in my front courtyard and close by an artichoke agave. Clearly the drainage there is perfect. There, they have bloomed for at least 10 years.


This particular variety is Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane' but there are several other that do well in southern gardens. I bought a couple more packets this year. The bulbs are small compared with the hybrid tulips. It is easy to see which way to plant them and I added grit to the bottom of the hole to make sure the base of the bulb stays dry.



Tulipa 'Tinka' is yellow with red outer tepals.


And this short flowering Tulipa humilis 'Persian red'


I don't think I had ever thought much about why flowers open and close as they do but watching this fascinating program I learnt that as the day warms up the cells on the inner surface of the tepals grow faster than the cells on the outside and the flower opens, then at the end of the day the cells on the outside of the tepal grow faster and the flower closes.


I had heard about Tulipmania in Holland in the 1600s but was to learn more during the program when Carol visited a grower of tulips in Amsterdam. There he showed a 'broken' tulip among his flowers. These rare, beautifully marked flowers, the result of a virus, were the cause of tulip mania. The most famous of all being Semper Augustus. Today broken tulips are removed and destroyed for fear of the virus spreading among the other bulbs. Modern day broken tulips have been bred to form stable bulbs but none are as beautiful of that one that caused Tulip Mania.
Fascinated by the story we watched the film available on Netflix but were disappointed in the story they told. I think I will learn more by reading the book The Tulip by Anna Pavord.

16 comments:

  1. The only Tulips that have done well for me are planted in my Traffic Island garden in the street. It is dry, rocky and sunny. Once you see where Tulips come from you understand why we so often fail at growing them. I have owned Anna Pavord's book since it came out and it is still on my shelf unread. One of these days . . .

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    1. Those are exactly the conditions they need. I'm hoping the endless rain of a month ago will not have been the death knell for my bulbs.

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  2. I grew some species tulips in my former garden but haven't tried growing them in this one. I remember admiring the 'Lady Jane' variety in one of your earlier posts and had intended to seek out some bulbs this year but I waited too long and everyone's sold out. With our drought once again deepening and our increasingly warm winters, perhaps it's just as well. I'll admire yours instead!

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    1. I'm not sure if they require much in the way of chilling but they do like dry summers. I am a little concerned about the rain we had this fall may have damaged mine.

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  3. Lovely pictures. The only tulips I've ever had success with are the ones in a vase.

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    1. Now you know all about the tulips which do well in our area.

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  4. Lovely tulips and beautiful pictures! This is just what I need to compliment my cactus and succulent xeriscape garden. Thank you for posting.

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    1. and the seed heads of these ones are very attractive too.

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  5. You'd mentioned you bought a couple more packets. Where did you get them? Thank you.

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  6. Those are beautiful species tulips, and yes I was surprised by the small size of the bulbs. I no longer plant tulips because the rabbits eat them all. I've thought about trying some in pots...one of these years. I do love them, though!

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  7. I am zone 8b & about 150 miles from the Gulf coast. I tried species tulips one time & they did not return. I did not realize my soil may have been the problem. Maybe next year I will try once again.

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  8. Thanks for the tip! Earlier this month planted some in a bed that is a mix of San Antonio clay and lots of compost, but it sounds like I need to move them into a bed that is more decomposed granite with a bit of compost mixed in. I hope they haven't already started rotting.

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  9. Any secret to watching the BBC show? I downloaded the BBC player, but it won't let me download the show...

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