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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.