Tulipalooza and other May Flowers

Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! For those of you who don’t know, GBBD occurs on the 15th of every month, giving garden bloggers everywhere an opportunity to show off their best blooms of the moment. It is hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

Happy container tulips greet visitors at the front walk.
Happy container tulips greet visitors at the front walk.

The timing of May’s GBBD is very fortuitous as it occurs at the peak of the tulip season.

A closer look at the container tulips.
A closer look at the container tulips.

This seems to have been an excellent year for tulips and spring bulbs generally, due in part to the cool weather and generous rainfall.

'Princess Irene' is still going strong.
‘Princess Irene’ is still going strong.

Mid-season tulips are lasting later into the late season, and late season bulbs seem especially luscious.

Tulip 'Couleur Cardinal'
Tulip ‘Couleur Cardinal’

‘Couleur Cardinal’ has been looking great for weeks.


The same is true for ‘Ballerina’.

'Annie Schilder' with 'Princess Irene'
‘Annie Schilder’ with ‘Princess Irene’

And ‘Annie Schilder’.


‘Kingsblood’ is a later-season tulip that has more recently joined the party.

Tulipa 'Chrysantha' (yellow), 'Lady Jane' (white), and 'Red Gem'.
Tulipa ‘Chrysantha’ (yellow), ‘Lady Jane’ (white), and ‘Red Gem’.

As for late season species tulips, I have discovered that my friends at John Scheeper’s have made an unusual (for them) shipping error. But I’m not complaining!

2015-05-11 09.12.06 tulips

You may recall I ordered T. clusiana ‘Chrysantha’ and ‘Tubergen’s Gem’. However, it seems that instead of the latter, I received T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ instead.

Tulips 'Lady Jane' and 'Chrysantha'
Tulips ‘Lady Jane’ and ‘Chrysantha’

It turns out, though, that ‘Chrysantha’ and ‘Lady Jane’ are excellent partners. ‘Lady Jane’ has a candy cane color scheme, with a creamy white interior that goes well with the rose and golden yellow of ‘Chrysantha’. ‘Lady Jane’ is also a bit taller and starts blooming a little later. Also taking part, though a bit faded, is T. batalinii ‘Red Gem’.

There are three Tulip varieties I wouldn’t try again: ‘Elegant Lady’, ‘Blushing Lady’, and ‘Salmon Pearl’ – all have colors that are too soft to mix with the powerful reds, oranges, and yellows that predominate among my tulip plantings. Also, ‘Elegant Lady’ has very long stems that seem to require staking.

Bleeding Heart
Bleeding Heart
White Bleeding Heart
White Bleeding Heart

If the tulips have a co-star, it is the Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis), pink and white.

But let’s tear ourselves away from the tulips and check out the other blooms at our place.

Peony 'America'
Peony ‘America’

‘America’, our earliest Peony, has just started to bloom in the back garden.

Red Trllium with a dash of Virginia Bluebell
Red Trllium with a dash of Virginia Bluebell

Also in the back garden, the Red Trillium (Trillium recurvatum) has begun to flower as the Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) begin to fade.

Wild Currant
Wild Currant

The dangling chartreuse flowers of Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) have made their appearance.

Flowering containers on the back patio.
Flowering containers on the back patio.

If they’re not full of tulips, the containers are full of pansies (Viola tricolor or V. x wittrockiana), Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), and Stock (Matthiola incana).

Prairie Smoke
Prairie Smoke

In the front garden, the Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) continue blooming. The flowers are nice, but it’s the seedheads that are really special and give this plant its common name.

'Donald Wyman' crabapple blossoms.
‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple blossoms.

Sadly, we never got a picture of our ‘Donald Wyman’ crab at its peak this year, but there are still a few blossoms that have not been knocked off by the rain.

Clove Currant
Clove Currant

Finally, this has been a great year for blooms on the Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum), which I have placed right next to the sidewalk so anyone can enjoy its spicy-sweet scent.

What are your favorite blooms in the garden right now?

67 Comments on “Tulipalooza and other May Flowers”

  1. I really like that mix of species tulips, even if it was an error it was one that worked! Princess Irene is just great and I was sad to see her fade here. In fact all your tulips look good. Your early peony also has lovely foliage… does that last through the summer or do you have to cut it back? I rather like the simple elegance of that single flower. I’m currently enjoying my early (frilly pink) peony – a bit brash compared to yours!

  2. I like your choice of tulips very much; you are lucky that they flower in distinct waves, mine pretty much all flower at once! I tried ‘Elegant Lady’ once and found it insipid in any combination. This tulips reviews are very useful in helping which to order for next year. I love the view to your door with all the pots, what a welcome.

  3. My front south-facing entry sidewalk is edged with Prairie Smoke and Shooting Stars, an elegant combination. Heart-leaved Yellow Parsnip (Zizia aptera) used to be part of the mix, as well; but alas; it’s no longer there. The Virginia Bluebells in my shade gardens have faded, but Jacob’s Ladder and Wild Blue Phlox are still going strong, now joined by the showy Wild Geranium. and the more subtle Yellow Pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima). And oh, Golden Alexanders are going strong.

  4. So much and so beautiful. I love your tulips, they’re not something I can grow in long hot-seasoned Austin. I do have the T. clusiana, though–they’re hardy here. They bloom much earlier for us. Those Virginia Bluebells– and the Currants, all are gorgeous! Lucky you, gardening guy!

  5. You have such a beautiful display of tulips, and all your work paid off big time. I love all the colors. I have a question though. Here with the 80-90° weather, tulips only lasted a few days, the later blooming tulips in my garden now since we have had a few days of cooler temps, but it will shoot back up by tomorrow. When your tulips fade and the leaves need to die back, what happens to all the pots since the dying leaves need the sun to replenish bulbs? Do you have a place to store them in your garden before they hit the garage for next year? Your tulips are so tightly packed in to allow annuals for replacement. I love tulips myself and really admire your display, but I can see they will need to stay in the garden for a month until those leaves wilt back.

      • Why not lift them with soil attached, lay them on the compost pile until withered and the bulbs start to dry, then clean the bulbs of soil so they can form a paper outer skin. The skin prevents rot while you store them until fall planting in your pots again. Dry them on a drying rack – old screen door will do. Store them in a dry, cool location, like a basement until needed. Just throw away any bulbs that are damaged or diseased. To make sure that disease does not break out while the bulbs are in storage, paint on dust-fungicide after they have dried. Just seems like an expense you can avoid tossing them. Check on line at the bulb companies or call John Scheepers and ask for a horticulturalist. Since they sell bulbs, they may not tell you this may work, but it does. I have done it before, but not for a long time. I may have forgotten a step.

  6. I must admit I have a bit of tulip envy. I have nothing to blame but my lazy way of gardening to prevent me from having them. I see your collection and I just drool. Of course your collection of dicentra. It is so dry here in my garden I have a hard time keeping them alive. I must try them again. Happy GBBD.

  7. Princess Irene is looking lovely. I LOVE tulips and am so glad that your are still in full bloom as the only ones left in my garden are the Elegant Ladies and they are fading fast.
    I have had a few bleeding hearts over the years and they have all died. I am hoping that my new plants will love their locations and grow as vigorously as yours!
    Happy Bloom Day!

  8. I enjoyed seeing your tulips, especially Princess Irene. Ours here are all done. Your prairie Smoke makes me quite jealous. I grow it too, but it never puts up so many flowers, which means very little “smoke.” Happy GBBD!

  9. In a word…..TULIPTASTIC! You must be really chuffed with your bulbs this year Jason. The entrance/steps is just wonderful. The bleeding hearts here have been flattened by the horrendous wind and rain, so nice to see yours. Have a good weekend 🙂

  10. Your Tulips look great. I really like Ballerina, and will be looking out for that in the autumn. And your bleeding hearts are amazing, so many flowers. I have also just bought som sweet alyssum in dark purple. My crab apple Makamik is the star at the moment along with the tulips.

  11. Im really liking your amazing combination of tulips Jason! Though all of your blooms look beautiful! And those white bleeding hearts are pretty incredible as well! Well done!!! I look forward to seeing more of your blooms as the season goes on!! Nicole

  12. Tulialooza…..I just love that! What a wonderful word, rolls of the tongue it does! Your containers are more than welcoming….rather heavenly I’d say, wish I could trot up your path to see them! I love Ballerina and Kingsblood and that peony is especially charming.xxx

  13. We are a few weeks ahead of you, it seems. All my tulips are gone now, so it’s such a treat to see all of yours. Besides Princess Irene, I also have Lady Jane, which I agree complement your other species so well. What a nice “mistake”! Love all those trilliums, too.

  14. What a magnificent display of tulips! And the other May-bloomers are pretty too. Intrigued by the clove currant and read that it is related to other currants and gooseberry, which I have in abundance and the birds adore! I just looked out of my window at the blue of baptisia, spiderwort, and clary sage; white blooms of kousa dogwood, fringe tree, and peony; and there are pink buds forming on the Queen Elizabeth rose. What is the difference between zizia aptera and zizia aurea?

  15. I may have to adopt your container method for tulips next year. Last fall, I carefully chose and planted 64 tulips within the vegetable garden fence. For the past 5 years, I’ve had great results doing that. Not so this year — not a single tulip appeared! What did appear is evidence of voles! I admit to shedding a few tears and muttering several unprintable words.

  16. Jason, you have a beautiful display of Tulips, I grow Ballerina too and in the shade its still going storing, several weeks of constant flowers. I also grow Ribes odoratum, but its in the wrong place and we hardly ever get to enjoy its fragrance, I shall move it nearer the path in the Autumn.

  17. Hey Jason,
    Just catching up as have not been well. Your bulbs look great in glazed containers but surprised you can get away with such small containers in Chicago as your colder than KC and I haven’t tried to do such here. Do you keep them in a protected spot or did they spend the winter where they are shown blooming. BTW, would love to see your dicentra in person, my friend.

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