One of the gardening joys of spring are Tulips. I grow quite a lot in pots to brighten up the patio but I also rotate them with Dahlias (See More Late Bloomers in this section of the website). November is the ideal time to plant tulips.
When the Dahlias have been lifted, I plant tulips along with Wallflowers (Cheiranthus) and Forget-me-nots (Myosotis); it is a traditional planting combination that has survived because it works.
The planting plans for the three raised beds this year are, Tulip Abu Hassan with the Wallflower Cloth of Gold. The beautifully shaped yellow Tulip West Point is going to be paired with Forget-me-nots for the colour contrast of yellow and blue. Of course, I always plant Tulip Prinses Irene with the red Wallflower Vulcan. The almost black Tulip Queen of The Night and the White Wallflower Ivory Giant are destined for the path behind one of the borders. A combination of Tulip White Triumphator, Tulip Purissima and the Wallflower Ivory Giant will help to fill the White garden in May. Any bulbs left over will join the incredibly showy Tulip Helmar in pots.
To obtain the single colours that I require, I grow my Wallflowers from seed purchased from specialist seed companies. (Either Sarah Raven or Chiltern Seeds, both have websites). The seeds are planted in root trainers in July where they remain until I plant them out with the Tulip bulbs. Mixed colour Wallflower plants can usually be purchased during November from garden centres as bare root plants. Wallflowers are members of the brassica family, so they benefit from having a dressing of lime on the beds before planting, along with a low nitrogen fertilizer such as Blood, Fish and Bone or any Rose fertilizer.
I hope you will be encouraged by the above to plant tulips for a colourful spring. If you need any more inspiration we have the Tulip expert Derek Walker coming to talk to us at our AGM in November 2013 about Tulips and his wonderful garden, Little Larford.