Flower of the Month: April

Tulips are like exotic birds. They come in different shapes, heights, colours and flowering times.  You have early single and doubles and late singles and doubles. The early flowering ones open in cooler weather, right when winter is just disappearing, and tend to last longer. Their flowers have a distinct cup shape consisting of six petals. The single late tulip is one of the last to bloom, and is also the tallest variety averaging heights of 18 to 30 inches. Also known as the May flowering tulip, these tulips come in the widest variety of colours. Doubles are often known as ‘Peony’ tulips and have heavy heads so need a sheltered position and may require staking.

‘Apricot Beauty’ is an early flowering single and although I found it to be rather a wishy-washy colour to begin with, the more mature the flower the deeper the colour, silvery salmon pink on the outside and spectacularly apricot and yellow on the inside. This started flowering in March and finished in mid-April.

Another early one to flower is ‘Cairo’, with a rich orange colour which lights up in the sun. This is a Triumph style tulip and long lasting and is scented so a bonus. It is very similar to ‘Brown Sugar‘ also scented and in the same orange, copper, red colours.

The next to flower in my collection this year was ‘Ronaldo‘ a delicious blackcurrant coloured Triumph which starts off a deep carmine red but darkens with age. This flowers for absolutely ages and looks gorgeous with the oranges and the pinks.

Cairo was soon followed by ‘Apricot Foxx‘ a golden orange with hints of pink. This is a Triumph, a single mid-season flower which doesn’t grow too tall. Handy in the wind.

A late flowering double is ‘La Belle Epoque‘ which actually opened in early April and has been flowering for a couple of weeks now. An unusual colouring of coffee, pink and apricot this is probably not the best tulip for my windy spot, but it is a wonderful flower.

Lily-flowered tulips are late spring bloomers. Their star-shaped flowers have long pointed petals that arch outwards.  I am a big fan of this shape of tulip, finding it very elegant. Among those I have grown are ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Purple Dream‘.  Ballerina (below) is very good at repeat flowering and is also scented. ‘Sarah Raven‘ is a delightful deep red one (seen centre of the collage)

Purple Dream has rich, purple petals which open as the flowers age, revealing a glowing white eye (as seen in the header image).

There are many other types including the Botanical or  Perennial species of tulip, which are smaller and more delicate than modern hybrids, but are normally very hardy and long lived. ‘Whittallii’ is among these, a lovely deep coppery orange.

I have grown Kaufmanniana Hybrids which are supposed to come back every year, but mine haven’t been too successful. Last year the leaves appeared but no flowers and the leaves were eaten by slugs I think. I also grew Parrots, a cultivar with unusual fringed, curled and twisted petals. Mainly late-flowering. I didn’t like them and the heads are too large and heavy for a windy garden.

Next year I will try some more of the Viridiflora which are distinguished by having green streaks or markings on their petals and are normally late flowerers. Given the choice of tulips I am sure there is one that must appeal to you.

 

Macro Monday #80

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.  ~ Imogen Cunningham.

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Elegantly twisting

My final tulip this year (I know I have gone on a bit) is this pretty purple one performing its last dance. Tulips give so much pleasure even in their dying moments. As tulips are my favourite flowers it seems a fitting photo for the end of the WordPress Photo Challenge which I have to thank for giving me inspiration when I first set out on the blogging journey. The weekly challenges enabled me to study the images I had in my archives that could meet the brief, or to go out and take a new image, bearing in mind the requirements. I began to take more considered shots. Understand what it was I wanted from a photograph; what I wanted my image to tell others. The challenge also helped me meet other bloggers in this vast blogosphere and create some long-lasting virtual friendships. We will all miss the weekly challenge, but I am confident we will continue to inspire one another as we share our worlds.

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Macro Monday #79

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Tulip in decay

A visit to the Eden Project at the beginning of May was not the best time to go for tulips this year, although there were still some in bud outside. In the Mediterranean Biome though it was a different story. Large terracotta pots (and oh, how I wish I could (a) afford and (b) lift such pots) contained tulips in their dying throes. However, with the light pouring through the windows it proved to be an opportunity for capturing their ‘stained-glass’ beauty.

 

Macro Monday #78

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Tulip ‘Avignon Parrot’ in late bud form

This year I added a new French Parrot tulip with long stems and an outrageously large  flower head. In retrospect possibly too large for my windswept plot.  From green buds unfurl brilliant orange blooms. The feathered flowers have hints of pink and green brushed along the petals. The finished article combines  tomato red, a sweet pink flame and an apricot-yellow edge.

‘Avignon Parrot’ with the elegant ‘Ballerina’

There is a non-parrot type with the same colouring, but with a neat goblet-shaped head which seems eminently more acceptable.

Named in 1966 after the Southern French city of Avignon where the pope had his palace in the Middle Ages and also famous for its ruined bridge.

“Sur le Pont d’Avignon,
On y danse, On y danse.
Sur le Pont d’Avignon,
On y danse tous en rond.”

I have to say I am not overly fond of this tulip, and I never thought I would say that about a tulip!

“Condensational”

Days of coastal fog can be so annoying as the temperatures drop and the air is damp. One positive result is how condensation is formed on the tulips in the courtyard. The jewel-like colours sparkle with diamonds.

Sarah Raven lily-flowered tulip

Purple Dream lily-flowered tulip

Ballerina lily-flowered lightly fragrant tulip

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