No More ‘Early Harvest’?

One of my favorite Tulips is T. kaufmanniana ‘Early Harvest’. Sure, I have lots of favorite Tulips, but ‘Early Harvest’ is really something special. First of all, it is an impressively early riser – I’ve had it blooming during the first week of April. Plus, that color – it fairly glows in the fresh spring sunshine.

‘Early Harvest’ this year in the Lamppost Bed. 

Sadly, though, ‘Early Harvest’ may not last much longer in our garden. I’ve got two clumps of this Tulip – one in the Lamppost Bed and the other in the Left Bank Bed on the opposite side of the sidewalk.

The one in the Left Bank Bed started with about 20 bulbs and now is down to just three. It was planted in the fall of 2013. The ‘Early Harvest’ Tulips in the Lamppost Bed were planted a year later. It’s been shrunk down to about a dozen.

Pure rodent malice.


Not entirely sure why ‘Early Harvest’ is becoming an endangered Tulip in our garden. Rabbits are part of the problem, certainly. They’ve noshed on the leaves and at least a third of the flowers this spring have ended up as amuse-bouches for the bunnies. (I think this tendency to eat the flowers from the top down is just pure rodent malice.)

2015-04-11 15.15.14
‘Early Harvest’ Tulips in the Left Bank Bed in better days. 

But there must be more to it. Maybe some critter is eating the bulbs. Or maybe the bulbs are just short-lived, though I’ve heard the kaufmanniana Tulips are more perennial than most hybrids.

2015-04-11 15.22.18
‘Early Harvest’ in a pot. 

One solution would be to grow ‘Early Harvest’ in pots, like my other hybrid Tulips. For whatever reason, rabbits mostly stay away from Tulips in pots. But there’s a problem: nobody seems to be selling ‘Early Harvest’ anymore. I hope this is just a temporary absence.

There’s also the question of what should replace ‘Early Harvest’ in the spots where it is disappearing in the Lamppost and Left Bank Beds. I’ve thought of Pasque Flower (Anemone patens), a very early native perennial. But Pasque Flower is a very pale purple, and I want something a lot more zippy.

‘Falconet’. Photo from

I’m considering an early Narcissus with an orange crown, like ‘Falconet’ or ‘Actaea’. Or maybe an early Species Tulip like T. humilis violacea. Rabbits seem to find Species Tulips less delectable. If only there were an early Species Tulip that came in bright orange.

Any suggestions?

41 Comments on “No More ‘Early Harvest’?”

  1. Early Harvest is absolutely lovely. I also searched for them online and you’re right, they seem to be for sale only in the UK. Burpees says they’re out of stock. Maybe they will get them in before next fall? Wish they grew here.

  2. Where we are the voles seem to eat tulips, but leave narcissus alone – and then about a year ago I read a report that Narcissus poeticus fields in the Massif Central (used for perfumery) had been devastated by voles. It seems you can’t win! I can’t offer a substitute for ‘Early Harvest’ that would be necessarily available to you, Jason, I’m afraid. I think I’d be inclined to trial something new every year to see if it ‘hits the spot’ like ‘Early Harvest’. It is a gorgeous tulip – I shall look out for it!

  3. I have a few suggestions to new tulips. Abu Hassan, Tulipa Whittallii, Hermitage, El Nino or William of Orange. But they will probably be a new treat for the rabbits. Narcissus Pappy George also has georgeous colours.

  4. Your blooms are lovely. Something dug up and ate 200 bulbs that we planted when we moved here. Not one tulip survived. I just found a hole dug under one of my trees and not sure if it is a gopher or a rabbit. Let the games begin.

  5. Wow – that one is a beauty! I have had a love affair with orange flowers for a few years so this one is now added to my list, if I can find it.

    Have you tried the “Acti-Sol” trick? Helen (Battersby) told me about it – you sprinkle the chicken manure pellets where you plant bulbs and apparently this deters rabbits from digging up the bulbs, so I’m wondering if it would deter them from munching down on the plants too? May be worth a try on the remaining tulips.

  6. That is a beautiful tulip, what a shame, how dare it diminish. My tulips rarely flower more than two years in a row even when they are supposed too, It’s a real pain. They are such a vibrant colour, I do hope you manage to get hold of some

  7. Hi Jason. Well, I have only lost a couple of Early Harvest tulips over the past five years or so, but did plant a few more last autumn. Perhaps they will be on sale later in the year? I do hope so as I agree, there is nothing better than that zingy orange so early in the year. Even if it is a bit brash! Hope you find an alternative before the autumn.

  8. Pure rodent malice–I know it well. Sometimes I feel guilty about disliking rabbits. They are so cute, of course. But the destruction…oh the destruction. But back to the topic of the Early Harvest tulips: I hope you can find more because they are so beautiful. They look great in the pots. Your idea of the orange-crowned Narcissus makes sense–similar dramatic color scheme without the rodent damage. Good luck!

  9. Sorry to hear about the loss of tulips. If it is a burrowing creature, you might try growing them in barrels. That is how I get around the pocket gophers here. If it is squirrels, they will attack the barrels, too. Another experiment I have tried, with some success noted, is growing them in very gravelly soil right next to a building.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: