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  • Debi Holland

Fagus Times Tulips


Read my Fagus Times tulip article written for Fagus Gardening Club's online magazine on behalf of club President Mary Payne MBE.


In the early seventeenth century, The Golden Age, tulips took on precious stone status and attracted attention from affluent buyers as a luxury investment. The unsustainable frenzy continued until tulip virus took hold, stopping bulbs multiply. As people purchased bulbs for the price of houses, the stakes were high and the bubble finally burst in 1637. Eventually the market recovered and tulips emerged as the National symbol of the Netherlands. They are still treasured around the world today but luckily for us, bulbs are now far more reasonable to buy!


Tulips might not be the first plant you think of in November but it is the perfect time of year to plant tulip bulbs. The cooler weather helps prevent the spread of Botrytis tulipae the fungus that causes Tulip Fire Disease. Spores can survive in the soil in warmer months, ruining future blooms with distorted leaves and brown spots.


Tulips thrive in full sun or part shade and are ideal for pots and borders. Try planting your bulbs in layers in a container, alongside other spring bulbs like narcissus and crocus. Known as lasagne planting, as one bulb fades the next variety flowers in succession so you have a continuous show of blooms throughout spring.


Plant your bulbs twice the depth of the length of the bulb; pointy end up. Angle the tip outwards in containers for a better display. Avoid shallow planting to protect from frost and from being dug up by inquisitive, hungry wildlife. Each bulb has enough energy stored to grow to the surface before needing to photosynthesis.


Try petite Tulip batalinii ‘Bright Gem,’ ideal for a rockery at 15cm tall. Classic tulips like ‘Queen of Night’ or ‘Apeldoorn’ are strong, tall varieties for borders, exotic fringed tulips like Black Parrot or two-tone Tulip clusiana or ‘Carnaval de Rio with add pizzazz.


Tulip bakerii ‘Lilac Wonder’ naturalises well in lawns as does wild native Tulip sylvestris, and for outstanding beauty, in my opinion, you cannot beat peony tulips such as ‘Foxtrot’ and ‘La Belle Époque,’ which intensify in colour as they age.


Let your imagination run wild planning a colourful 2022. And as the bulb planting season draws to an end you may be able pick up some bargains as shops clear the decks for Christmas.


Happy planting! You can never plant too many bulbs.


Photo © Debi Holland 2021