Tulip season has passed its peak around here, a peak that came early for some reason during this cold, dry spring. While several of my favorite Species Tulips have already come and gone, there are several still gracing us with their cheerful presence.
I can’t resist an orange Tulip, so when I saw Tulipa humilis ‘Little Princess’ I had to get some. Tulipa humilis varieties grow only about 6″ tall so it is important not to overwhelm them with taller companions.
The origins of T. humilis are on the high mountain slopes of the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, and Lebanon.
‘Little Beauty’ is another Tulipa humilis variety with an interior of blue, white, and magenta. This species needs to be viewed from above to appreciate the colorful centers.
Tulipa clusiana varieties have a very different look depending on whether they are open or closed. ‘Tubergen’s Gem’ is bright yellow when open …
… but a soft red with yellow edges when closed.
Similarly, ‘Lady Jane’ is creamy white when open with a bit of pink at the tips. It is cream and rose-colored when closed. T. clusiana varieties grow about 10″ tall, not quite so petite as T. humilis. This species hails from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the western Himalayas. It has become naturalized as a wildflower in parts of southern Europe.
I planted a small number of all these Tulip varieties seven or eight years ago. Since then, their numbers have remained fairly steady.
Judy has been pushing for more T. clusiana bulbs; they are among her favorites. Also, I’ve noticed in catalogs another T. humilis variety with a white and blue center – T. humilis alba coerulea oculata. These might find their way into a package heading to my house this fall.