Now that April is in the books, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite early spring combinations from my home garden. It’s no surprise that they all involve tulips in some fashion, but each has its own unique qualities.
When I expanded the border along our driveway last fall, I went on a bit of a bulb-buying binge. I knew the bulbs would provide early spring color while I decided what perennials and annuals I wanted to intersperse between the Aronia, Weigela, Hydrangea, and Viburnum shrubs I’d planted between the driveway and the existing row of trees (including a crabapple and three sweetgum). I’d like to take credit for a well-planned strategy for the bulbs that included considerations of color, height and bloom time, but my buying and planting could best be described as haphazard. So when this combination of ‘Claudia’, ‘Purissima’ and ‘Oxford’ tulips bloomed together, I counted my lucky stars. Flowering beneath our crabapple, they have provided several weeks of color in the garden.
Nearby, another lucky combo emerged. These ‘Banja Luka’ tulips were planted in a small group in between several clumps of Siberian Iris (I. sibirica), creating the effect of tulips with extremely narrow foliage.
Most of the tulips planted last fall found there way into the gardens on the street side of our house, so that they could be enjoyed by neighbors. One of the exceptions is this clump of ‘Negrita’ tulips that were interplanted with grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) at the base of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’. Just adjacent is the low-growing, lemon-scented Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokova’ and a large bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). This combination looks beautiful throughout the day, but particularly aesthetic when the petals of ‘Negrita’ are illuminated by the sun.
If I had to pick one combination that stops me in my tracks every time I see it, it would be the tulip patch beneath the red maple (Acer rubrum) in our south garden. Large pale and bright pink ‘Ollioules’ tulips are interspersed with the dark purple, smaller ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips. Viewed out our living room window, this grouping stands well on its own. But when viewed against the backdrop of the ‘Prairiefire’ crabapples that bloom beyond the white fence that encloses our backyard gardens, these tulips simply glow.
The color combos in my spring garden this year have been the best I’ve ever seen, and it’s all thanks to the tulips I planted last fall. As they start to fade and give way to the iris and peonies, I know one thing for certain. Even if I need to replant them every fall to ensure a great springtime show, tulips will always be a part of my garden.