It’s Time to Talk Tulips

Its been a few years since I planted spring bulbs. One year I was able to get a very good buy on almost 1500 bulbs so needless to say the garden looked fabulous the following spring. I must admit that it seemed like a lot of bulbs but they don’t go as far as you think. With half an acre to cover we soon had them all planted.

Its time to talk Tulips

Tulips grow very well here in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Even with our spring rains they will often stand up to the weather. Above is a photo of Tulips in one area of my garden. I love a mix of colours and have lots of pinks, reds, oranges and yellows.

Its Time to talk Tulips

This grouping of Tulips amazed me last spring. In the winter this area sat underwater for a few days. They still grew. It seems that even though it was very wet for a couple of days, it wasn’t long enough to rot the bulbs.

Its Time to Talk Tulips

One Tulip that I have had a hard time finding over the years is the species Tulips. Last weekend I was able to purchase some mixed bags of species Tulips at West Coast Seeds retail store in Ladner. I found this old photo above of Tulip tarda. The short growing Tulips open up wide in the sun and close up at night.

Its time to talk tulips


I have used this species to grow through a narrow planting of Pachysandra that bordered my fence. Pachysandra or Japanese Spurge is an evergreen ground cover and useful for those areas that need some softness. I had a 12″ area between the sidewalk and fence that the builder had filled with rock. I removed the rock and placed the ground cover in and underplanted it with Tulip tarda. Not only did it soften the hardscape but it was evergreen.

Its time to talk tulips

So I couldn’t help myself last weekend. I went kind of crazy doing my bulb buying and bought a bunch of different Tulips. The tangerine colour above is ‘Little Princess’ which I planted with hundreds of miniature Narcissus. I think the combination of orange and yellow will look great in the spring. I am really excited to have found Tulip clusiana ‘Peppermint Stick’. The last time I saw these growing was at a client’s home almost twenty years ago. They stand tall and straight with red and white petals. I also bought  a mix of Tulips called ‘Licorice Twist’. If you look at the photo above it is a mix of  a ‘Black Hero’ and Pink ‘Finolo’ Tulips. I will be planting them in a container next week.

Its time to talk tulips

I was anxious to get the Tulip bulbs in the ground. First I had to clean out the bed of Dahlias and I was set to go. I had to take advantage of the dry sunny weather to get my bulbs planted. I like to plant my Tulips in groups of either five to seven bulbs. They make for a better show of colour. I have also found over the years that if I plant them deeper they come back every year better and better. Many times a Tulip gets busy putting its energy into producing an offshoot bulb and the flower is compromised the next year. One good reason to use species Tulips is that they naturalize well and actually multiply over the years. In the above photo I used some taller ‘White Emperor’ Tulips in the back followed with the ‘Peppermint Stick’ in the center and some mixed species Tulips in the front.

Its time to talk tulips

Although the species Tulips I bought were a mixed bag I could see by looking at them that they were different. This red skinned bulb is most likely a red colour or purple flower.

Its time to talk tulps

The lighter skinned species Tulip is probably a yellow species. Time will tell if I have them right. All the Tulips are planted along my front walkway so they can be enjoyed by all. I can’t wait to see how they bloom so hurry up spring!