Just two weeks ago, after visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden and its wide selection of tulip cultivars, I wrote a post about how I thought tulips should look like traditional tulips — single flowered tulips along the lines of the Darwin and Triumph lines. Little did I know when I hastily typed that piece that my whole attitude towards tulips was about to change. For growing in my garden was a new tulip I had planted last fall called ‘Herman Emmink’.
Now Herman, as I’m affectionately calling this new addition to my spring garden, is officially a double late — or peony type — tulip that is named after the Dutch singer/announcer Herman Emmink who performed the song ‘Tulpen uit Amsterdam (Tulips in Amsterdam)’ in 1957.
I planted two clumps of ‘Herman Emmink’ tulips in the landscape, one under the red maple (Acer rubrum) in the southern border, and the other beneath a white lilac (Syringa vulgaris) in the garage back border. Of each clump of five bulbs, only one healthy tulip grew this spring. This likely doesn’t say much for the hardiness of this variety, but I’m not going to complain too much after the show each tulip has provided.
The fat, swelling buds first tinged with yellow, then red held tight for about a week. Even a few days in the 80s didn’t force the buds to open too quickly. Each tulip slowly revealed itself, a little each day.
About ten days after the buds first showed color, ‘Herman Emmink’ opened into a bowl of tightly-clustered petals streaked in orange, red and yellow. Its form and texture was unlike any flower I’ve ever seen. Its color seemed custom designed to catch the evening sun that warmed the backyard at each day’s end.
One of the ‘Herman Emmink’ tulips holds three flower buds on one stem. I’m yet to find information to know whether this is a normal habit or a genetic mistake. I doubt they will open at nearly the size of the larger flower, but the two side buds beautifully cradle the central blossom.
Tonight, I think these tulips have started their decline. The petals, once tightly held, are beginning to separate and resemble a more open peony flower.
Each evening, I am more amazed at how this tulip catches the sunlight. While the midday sun tends to wash its colors out, as the day approaches dusk it simply glows with a deep saturation that makes it look almost molten.
While I’m still rather partial to a traditional tulip form, today I officially admit my haste and fault. I should not have dismissed the other tulips in one fell swoop of my keyboard. This fall I’ll promise to give a few more double lates a try. There may be another gem out there that will infatuate me just as much as this tulip named Herman.