As much as I praise and love the Darwin varieties, it's Tulipa, "Olympic Flame" that truly embodies for me the perfect combination of sun and fire ... and what better variety to liven up a sunny spring day! And that this particular strain belongs to the Darwins is only testament to its dazzling staying power ... These are some of the original tulips we first planted in the small bulb bed out front, our first foray into planting spring bulbs back in about 1999. Way back then, we quickly filled this bed with various varieties of tulips, fancy and otherwise, as well as daffodils, snowdrops, crocus and Fritillaria michaelovski specimens. Certain ones have come and gone (mostly the fancier tulips, who never seem to last over time ... as I keep preaching) and a few remain, the most faithful bloomers of which are these lovely examples. There are also a few remaining "Parrot Feather" tulips (more on them soon), but for the most part, those tulips whose pictures originally dazzled and seduced us (such as the "Blue Tulips" that turned out to be mauve!) have moved on and just quit appearing over time.
Ok, you can see this coming, so I'll say it just one more time ... if you're going to go to the trouble of planting tulips, make the effort worth it! Darwins are by far the best way to go for years of dependable color ... go ahead and plant those hybridized poodles of the tulip world for a few years of unusual splash if you want, but you'll always come back to the Darwins in the end. I guess it's kind of like the old saying ... you date the flashy ones, but will eventually marry the Darwins. Well, that is, if you have what's commonly referred to as a "lick of sense" in your head. Barring unforeseen catastrophes (such as our disastrous recent cold spell), they will return to reward you and delight you for years to come ... long after the last ruffled petalcoat has left town.
These three shots were taken last year (4-22-06) on a gloriously sunny day, which really helps to show off the true range of fire you can get with Olympic Flame, thus justifying its rather high-falutin' moniker. All pretentions aside, they remain one of my all time favorite varieties ... so go ahead, click to enlarge them (or right click "view image" in Firefox) and get lost in the mesmerizing patterns of their striking inner bits!
I'll have some more different varieties up soon for you to compare with these so you can get a flavor of just how intricate the private regions of tulips can really be ... (Stay tuned, Olivia!)
And since this post was originally conceived of as a joint garden blog post, give a click here to see what Olivia has been doing with one of these!