Monday, March 12, 2012

An heirloom tulip for Southern gardens

My tulips are up! This variety is Tulip clusiana from Old House Gardens. It's a red and white heirloom tulip from 1607.
Tulip clusiana (1607)

I planted 10 precious bulbs in my zone 8b garden a year and a half ago, and they've naturalized.
Tulip clusiana

The native T. clusiana can be identified by its deep purple heart which is absent from the hybrids.
Purple heart of Tulip clusiana

There are some T. clusiana hybrids out there ('Lady Jane', 'Tinka', 'Chrysantha') and I've planted a few, but none have done as well as the original.

What spring bulbs have naturalized in your garden? I'd love to know!


Words and photos © 2009-2012 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

18 comments:

  1. An heirloom from 1607. Isn't that amazing?! It's beautiful and doesn't look anything like the supermarket tulips that we buy today. Have you read Botany of Desire by Polan? You might enjoy the chapter on tulips.

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    1. "The Botany of Desire" is one of my favorite books. In fact, I don't think I've read a Michael Pollan book I haven't liked!

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  2. I have some paperwhites and hyacinths that come back reliably every year, but neither is a stunning as your naturalizing tulip. Thanks for the recommendation. That's definitely a plant that I would add to my garden.

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    1. I love paperwhites and hyacinths, too! 'Erlicheer' is one of my favorites and is also a very reliable return visitor.

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  3. I'm thinking I need to get into bulbs for certain areas. Those are stunning blooms, to say the least.

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    1. I have no idea if they'll grow in New Mexico, but I can't help but think if they survived our Exceptional Drought last summer, they might do well there!

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  4. Oh, I love those! I've always wanted some and wondered why I don't see them more commonly in the Austin area. They're just so lovely. Mostly, I have irises coming up, but not yet blooming. Soon, though.

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    1. The price tag on these beauties probably scares some folks off. $38 for 10 bulbs! But oh, so worth it. I wish I'd gotten 30 of these and none of the T. clusiana hybrids. I'm jealous of your irises. Maybe next year.

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  5. I am so inspired by your photos! I've bookmarked the site and plan to buy these bulbs in the fall. Thanks!

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    1. Glad to be of assistance! Actually, I'd recommend ordering as soon as you can (like, now!). If you put your money down now, Old House Gardens will put you first in line for their fall shipment. That's how I got mine.

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  6. I'm hesitant to spend that much on bulbs, when I'm not sure what they will do. If they multiply, stick around for years, and look awesome, then I don't mind the initial investment. Thanks for trying them out and letting us know about them.

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    1. I'm usually hesitant too, but I read about these beauties on other blogs and decided to take a chance. I wish they'd multiply but for now I'm just happy they're surviving the drought and coming back!

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  7. What great tulips here. I would love to know where I could purchase some.

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    1. The only source I've found for the species tulip is Old House Gardens online. I've seen the hybrids at numerous websites, nurseries and even box stores marketed under the Southern Living brand.

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  8. I want these in my garden Caroline! They are a bit redder than my Lady Janes. Thank you for the great shot of their purple throat! gail

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    1. You're welcome! I'd read up on the significance of the purple center in identifying the species tulip and wanted to make sure to include that. p.s. Your Lady Janes are precious.

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  9. Lovely tulips! They remind me of a circus tent. Very fun!

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  10. Gorgeous! Great pictures and information.

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