Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Plant of the Day: Tulipa Turkestanica March 16, 2010

Filed under: bulbs,flora,spring — greenwalks @ 8:25 pm
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Every year since I planted this unusual species tulip, Tulipa turkestanica, it comes up in the spring and I forget what it is and have to go look it up. This year, it was a neighbor’s inquiry that alerted me that it had even started blooming – a few clumps in the parking strip get extra sun this time of year and had started early.

The thin, strappy foliage and smallish, bell-like flowers always fool me – I think they’re going to be fritillaria or some other, forgotten, early-season bulb. I have a real soft spot for species tulips, and add more each year in no particular pattern or color scheme. Right now, I have white, soft red, purple, and yellow ones all showing themselves. On sunny days, they open their petals and drink in the light, just like me.

Here are the turkestanicas, happily blooming next to muscari, which was an accident but a nice one, I think.

Turkestan tulip

I doubt I will ever get to Turkestan to see them bloom in the wild, but that would be pretty cool. Have you ever traveled to a far-off place because you wanted to see a particular plant?

Tulipa turkestanica


Alien Seed Pods June 23, 2009

Yet another reason to love the species tulips that came up first and lasted longest in the parking strip this spring:

Species tulip seed pods

I just read recently that the trick to getting tulips to repeat is to plant them in an area where they receive little or no water during their dormant season. If they’re where it will get wet, it’s better to dig them up and store them until fall, so they don’t rot. I might have to go to the trouble, which I never have before, for these ones. They’re just too cool to treat as an annual like I usually do with tulips.

It’s weird to be thinking about bulbs now that the Summer Solstice has passed, but I’m trying to be good about letting my bulb foliage hang around as long as it needs to, so I’m grateful this bunch is at least not too ugly to look at amid all the surrounding greenery.

Do summer’s beauties make you forget about your little spring friends who are done for the year? Or do you miss them and think of them, even a little bit, sometimes? (I do.)


Howdy, Tulip March 3, 2009

Filed under: flora,my garden — greenwalks @ 10:13 pm
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A couple of days ago, I checked the parking strip tulips I planted last fall and saw lots of foliage, some of it pleasantly stripy, but no flowers yet.

Tulip foliage, late February

It has been looking so desolate and muted out there, for so long, that I have been craving a jolt of color (of unknown and surprising hue, since I never did find the rest of my planting list for that time).

After years of planting tall-stemmed tulips and finding that they acted as annuals in my (previous) garden, I have mostly stuck to species tulips here. They push up earlier, are generally more reliable repeaters, and come in some pretty amazing colors to keep the color relay going after the crocuses run the lead-off leg. Whether it’s Kaufmaniana or greigii I know not (leaning toward greigii, since their leaves are often striped), but here is what greeted me yesterday when I went out to check.

First tulip, March 2

Hooray! Thanks, sun. It’s been great to see you for a few days, but we won’t get to used to you. We know you’ll go away for a while but will be back in, oh, July.

(I’m just going to go ahead and say right now that it’s going to probably continue to be a pretty lame week for me and el blog. Hope to be back up to speed pretty soon.)