Botanical tulips--color balm for winter doldrums
|Tulipa humilis 'Alba Coerulea Oculata'|
|Tulipa greigii at Kendrick Lake|
And they're toughies! Our native Rocky Mountain bulbs are sensible and rarely bloom before May, but the tulips most come from more predictable climes. Even so, I find that they get snowed on two or three times most springs, and it doesn't seem to faze them. They do have one failing: they are attractive to deer, rabbits and voles. Fortunately, I do not have the last on the list, but over the last few years I have begun to have both deer and rabbits in my garden. I confess guiltily that I am rather charmed by my bunnies and bambis--they have munched a few of my tulips too: this year I plan to put some chickenwire around and perhaps try some repellant. I shall hang a sign out saying "Mr. Fox--get your butt back here, buster!" (we had resident foxes for years--and I miss them)...
|Tulipa saxatilis...or is it baker?|
|Tulipa bakeri (or is it saxatilis) in Watersmart Garden, DBG|
Dan Johnson somehow intuited the perfect spot to grow this tulip in Watersmart Garden, where it has naturalized by runners to make a wonderful patch. It has persisted here for a decade or more--I can't say how anxiously I watch this every year (it pops its foliage up in winter)...will I ever have the chance to go to Crete in Spring when this is blooming and track down the native tulips of my ancestral home? Time is not infinite, alas. Leastways not for humans...
Funny how tulips come in pairs: bakeri and saxatilis are so similar..and then there's T.hageri and orphanidea: both are Greek, both are burnt orange (although one or the other also grows in Turkey--where once most everyone spoke Greek you know). It's interesting the Dutch have had such luck taming the Mediterranean species--while many of the Central Asian sorts have yet to be licked: Tulipa regelii is probably my Holy Grail of the genus. Henrik is probably weeding it out at Gothenburg.
|Tulipa vvedenskyi in the embrace of Whipple's cactus|
|Tulipa clusiana cultivar|
I end with the one I shall never do without. You can't really buy this Turkish delight (unless one of the Latvians is selling it for 80 Euros). It is apparently extinct in the wild. But many decades ago John Worman--who co-founded our Rocky Mountain Chapter of NARGS with me and Paul way back in 1976 (my how that date is starting to get a bit faint and dusty with time!) dropped by to visit me at Denver Botanic Gardens. He brought an envelope full of seed of this impossibly choice plant and told me "Panayoti--just toss the seed around the garden--it will come up"--which (being a clever and obedient fellow I did). It probably only took three or four years, but the seedlings began to bloom and the rest is history. Visit the Rock Alpine Garden (or my current home garden where some have mysteriously appeared as well!) in late May and early June and you will see this last of tulips to bloom fulminating with that impossibly bright Chinese (or is it Sealing Wax) vermilion. Thank you, John--and bless your soul in rock garden Heaven!