Nationale Tulpanday 2014

Every now and then, a request is made to use one of my photographs and I gladly comply…especially if they’re nice enough to credit me. Yesterday a digital lifetime magazine, ScoutieGirl, used one of my photos from a trip to the Netherlands a couple of years ago. From her article I learned something new: last weekend was National Tulip Day celebrated in Amsterdam, the official kickoff of tulip season that lasts from January until the end of April.

Organized by growers, about 200,000 tulips are displayed in Dam Square in Amsterdam where visitors can browse the blooms and pick a free bouquet for their home. Last year, there were about 10,000 folks who happily tiptoed through the tulips picking their favorite colors.

A youtube video of the 2013 Nationale Tulpenday gives us a peek into the joyful event.

We were lucky enough to accompany Virginia bulb growers, Brent and Becky Heath, for a once in a lifetime adventure through public and private gardens and behind the scenes look at the operation and fields of several growers who are associated with the Heath’s business. Here are a sampling of my photos that give me a little hope that spring will eventually come to this frozen New Hampshire landscape.

Click on any photograph to enlarge.

Bulbs are FINALLY in the ground…

After returning from a trip to Keukenhof Gardens in Holland with Brent and Becky last May, I dreamed about seeing colorful tulips in my own gardens in 2011. Breathtaking would be an understatement to describe the Keukenhof rivers of tulips planted en masse of single colors that paralleled, twisted and merged like brilliant rainbows that had fallen to the earth.  Endless paths throughout the 80-acres of woodland park with endless variety and patterns of 7,000,000 hand planted bulbs was more than eye candy. It bedazzled.  A profusion of muscari in shades of blue coiled around and about the tulips completed the colors of the rainbow.

So I also wanted muscari… lots of muscari in shades of blues and whites and lavender planted for accent color. I wanted it around birdbaths, against the tulips, and accenting the stones around the frog pond. From Brent & Becky’s Bulbs last fall, I purchased cobalt blue muscari armeniacum and several other varieties that I had admired in Holland. And last week in a lull between snow days and icy days, I finally got the bulbs planted. It’s late in the season so I’ll let you know if they appear above ground this spring.

After muscari I planted a mass of tulip bulbs in several borders.  I massed single colors and twisted them into other colors, similar to Keukenhof’s style of planting but on a MUCH smaller scale. I have great hopes that springtime views will be gorgeous on the river in Ware Neck.  Here are some of my selections:

Come-Back

Hakuun

Most of the tulips I bought were Darwin hybrid tulips from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  This deep red “Come-Back,” thus named because it is a reliable perennial, is a mid-spring bloomer that grows to 16″-18.” It’s great for cut flowers.

I could not pass up this Darwin hybrid “Hakuun,” pure white with a hint of green on the sepals. It hails from Japan and grows to 16″-18″ tall.

Elegant Lady

I took a chance with a few of the selections because I just could not resist them. Take a look at “Elegant Lady,” the ‘color of butter cream frosting with a pale pink overlay,’ says the wording under the picture. How could I resist such a delicious bloom even if it only blooms one season?

Daydream

Then I planted a river of “Daydream” Darwin hybrids that open yellow and mature to a soft apricot orange. I’m thinking sherbet when I see these 18″-20″ blooms in the catalog. And this tulip possesses a mildly fragrant aroma.

Marit

“Marit,” a Darwin hybrid described as ‘a glowing blend of cherry red and primrose yellow with a bit of chartreuse’ was another irresistible tulip. A mid-spring bloomer, it grows 14″-18″ tall.

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  • The Darwin hybrid tulip bulbs should be planted about 8″-10″ deep. This prevents the bulb from splitting up into new bulbs that are non-flowering and helps the flower to have thicker stems.
  • Remove the flower as soon as it is spent to allow energy to go into the bulb rather than seed production.
  • A low-nitrogen organic fertilizer in the spring is advised.
  • Allow the foliage to completely wither away before you remove it.
  • Avoid irrigating tulips. They like it dry.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

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