Call me an old romantic but I’m a bit of a sucker for tulips. I love the way they are transformed from tight bud to over-the-top bloom, with an intensity and depth of colour almost unparalleled in the plant world. It’s no wonder so many painters love them, though it’s not easy to capture the luminescence and silkiness of the petals with paint.
Some years back I created a sort of contemporary parterre for my front garden, with sleeper and granite sett patterning on the ground, and brick beds with box edgings. The central square bed was going to have box balls, one in each corner and one in the middle, but a year ago I decided to make them a bit more interesting and so have been clipping them into the shape of birds – with an upturned tail like a wren and a quirky beak. At least, I thought it was quirky, everyone else told me it looked like a pacman. My daughter had a go at the next one and made rather an elegant beak – clipping is down to her now.
Initially I grew stipa gigantea in the beds but I changed this a while back to a scheme with white foxgloves and roses; I miss the movement the stipa provided though they were too large to allow for anything else at all in the beds, so I think I’ll be putting some kind of grass in the bed – I’m not sure which yet though.
In the mean time, I planted these black and white tulips last autumn – Black Hero (which is a double form and sport of the famous Queen of the Night) and Mount Tacoma, which is white with occasional green streaks. Set against the flush of the new box growth it’s a pretty unbeatable combination, a bit classy, and a bit blousy while still being a bit restrained – perhaps it’s as well I have replaced my pacman with a wren! Now where did I put my clippers?