These lovely dwarf tulips represent one of two varieties we have planted out front in the boulder bed near the sidewalk. Unlike some of our other, larger tulips, this particular variety Persian Pearl (Tulipa humilis) seems to have prospered despite all the cold weather we had last spring. They have definitely naturalized a bit and are forming a nicely defined clump near several of the Hyacinths among the rocks near the front steps of the house. With their luscious red petals, brilliant yellow centers and silvery highlights on the outside of the blooms, they make an outstanding companion to Hyacinths, Muscari armeniacum ('Grape Hyacinth') and later blooming spring crocus (such as the 'Dutch' varieties). In the spot where we have them planted, they offer an attractive contrast to the purples of Hyacinth Peter Stuyvesant (featured here in the previous post) and the Muscari which are currently blooming along with them.
We usually have another variety of T. humilis called Little Beauty that grows near them, but so far this year, they have failed to appear, and I'm wondering if they too have succumbed to the fate of their larger cousins, or if they are merely taking their time. At this point, though, I think we've lost them too, because they have in past years bloomed just after Persian Pearl has wrapped up its bloom period for the year. It also appears that we have lost the one red Hyacinth (Jan de Bos) which was planted nearby, however, one of the Stuyvesants is multiplying in its stead this year, so we still have roughly the same configuration of three Hyacinths in this area.
Tulipa humilis has been, so far, a fairly carefree variety to plant, and as long as they have well drained moist (loamy to average) soil in a sunny area in the spring, they have proven to be pretty reliable bloomers for us. I'd say that good light is essential to success with this variety, because on cloudy days they just pack it up and simply refuse to open. Apparently they are also more prone to naturalize freely if they get the requisite amount of sun they desire. If you are interested in growing them, I'd recommend making sure that where they are planted they consistently get at least 4-5 hours of sun a day. Though their bloom period is relatively short (alas, the one drawback of any tulip), they do last for at least 2-3 weeks on average, which is better than most of their larger cousins can boast. Once they're done for the year, just let the foliage die back naturally and disappear for the rest of the growing season. We usually just throw down some California Poppy seed or Moss Rose to take over for the summer, as they don't form deep enough root structures to disturb the bulbs sleeping beneath them. That way the annuals can fill in the space during the summer, die back in the fall and clear the space for them to return in the spring.
Photos taken by Fernymoss on 26 April, 2008, using the S700. Of course, the third shot is for that connoisseur of inner bits, Olivia. Hope you enjoy them!