Monday, 23 April 2012

Of tulips and grandparents

As mentioned before I grow a lot of plants that have symbolism for me.  They remind me of a place or a person or a time.  Tulips remind me of my maternal grandfather.  I was seven when he died and I don't remember him very well, but one thing I do remember were the long borders of yellow and red tulips that he grew.  I don't remember anything else that he planted and I do know that year after year after he died these tulips emerged again and again.  They were beautiful.

Sadly after he died my grandmother took no real interest in gardening, it was not something she wanted to do.  She employed a gardener for a period of time but after he left then the garden just descended into chaos.  Part of this chaos was a myriad of teasels and I grow teasels as they remind me of her.  Anyway, I digress.  Tulips - this post is about tulips and this time of year is about tulips.
I grow quite a lot of tulips.  I see them as a herald of Spring, a call to remind us that colour is returning to the garden.  These species tulips have become a real favourite.  Not so many years ago I didn't know that species tulips existed, now I do they are a real joy.  Some are even starting to self-seed a little and bulk up.  This is a delight to me.
They are so fragile looking and yet really quite tough.  This one is Tulipa Clusiana Lady Jane.  I have lots of these.
Even when in bud I love the way they bend almost like snake-heads, they look like they are seeking something out.
These dark red ones came from a mix called Mysterious blend, so I am not sure of the name, but they are a great dark colour and have mixed in well with my annual wallflowers and self-sown cerinthe.  The tulips poke through the self-seeders wonderfully.
Tulipa Gavota - a new one for me.  I didn't used to like bi-coloured tulips.  I do now.
Even when the flowers have gone over, tulips retain their beauty.  I think this one is Praestans Fusilier.  Probably one of the best names for a tulip ever!
Not sure of the name of this one either, its another 'Mysterious Blend' one, I didn't used to like the multi-petalled ones either.  I'm through that stage now.
Parrots, no, didn't used to like Parrots;  there is a theme running through this isn't there?  I find that constantly though about gardening.  Things I think I do not like, or do not understand why people like them so much.  Then one day I see a different one, or ones placed in a certain way and it is like opening the curtains to a dimly lit room!
 Not all my tulips are fully out yet, but even as they unfurl they have beauty.

Aladdin's Record - this is another new one to me this year.  I am a great fan already.
I finish though on Tulipa Sylvestris.  I grow these in the wild garden in the grass.  I think they edge the most to being called my favourite.  They are simple, beautiful and tough, what's not to love?

As this post started with my maternal grandparents I suppose I had better mention the plant associations with my paternal grandparents.  This is trickier in some ways.  My paternal grandfather liked to control the garden.  His lawn was mowed to bowling green precision and we were not allowed to walk (heaven forbid run) on it.  He was also a fan of topiary, so I suppose my knot garden is sort of a reminder of him as that is probably the most formal element I have.  My paternal grandmother, now this did take some thought, but I decided that it was juniper that reminded me most of her, which I don't currently grow, but there is a bottle of gin in the house.......










2 comments :

  1. I have just blogged about tulips myself and came here to find yours! Lovely choices. I agree entirely about the things you think you don't like. I was vehemently anti grasses for years and now I have quite a few. I love your tulipa sylvestris. I did have some out in the field and you have reminded me to look for them. I hope they haven't disappeared!

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  2. I feel like I spend a lot of my time reassessing my dislikes - the most I develop as a gardener the more I appreciate the huge variety there is out there.

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