Last hurrah?

Last fall, I decided to hold off on planting many perennials and shrubs in our new patio garden, instead filling it with spring bulbs. More than 700 bulbs went into the fresh compost, including daffodils, tulips, allium, iris and grape hyacinth. I loosely planned to have something blooming throughout spring, from the first Iris reticulata to the double late tulips. This extremely warm spring has not only been early, but also compressed. Everything is blooming at once.

Patio garden

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how long the flowers have lasted, particularly the tulips. With many days in the upper 70s and lower 80s, I would have expected just a few days for each bloom.

Tulipa ‘Holland Beauty’

With a wide palette of colors, interesting combinations appear from every angle. From the patio, ‘Holland Beauty’ tulips in the upper raised bed stand out against the bright red and yellow of ‘Banja Luka’ tulips in the lower terrace. Muscari add a subtle purple between the tulip stems.

Tulipa ‘Banja Luka’

From the back lawn, ‘Banja Luka’ becomes the focal point against the retaining wall. The ‘Magic Carpet’ mix of Muscari makes a long-lasting rim of color.

Triumph Tulip

The first and largest of the tulips to bloom, the red Triumphs, are reaching the end of their flowering. At the end of an 80 degree-day, the petals fan out into a 7-8″ splay.


Tulipa ‘Miranda’ and ‘Beauty of Spring’

In a partly sunny spot in the side yard, ‘Beauty of Spring’ tulips hover above the more compact double ‘Miranda’ tulips. We’ll soon have peonies blooming; ‘Miranda’ does a close imitation in the interim.

Tulipa ‘Sensual Touch’

The latest of the tulips to bloom is ‘Sensual Touch’ — a coral-colored tulip planted beneath the lilac in the patio garden. Its fringed petals appear to be hand-trimmed with pinking shears.

Courtesy of

There have been reports of large hail with the storm system that’s moving across Illinois, so my stroll through the garden tonight may be the best the spring bulbs have to offer this year. I’ve made the decision to treat hybrid tulips as annuals, because of their inconsistent repeat bloom after the first year.

If the storms wipe them out later this evening, it will have been a spectacular last hurrah.

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Christopher Tidrick

Be real. Love always. Share beauty. Lead well. Learn more.

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