24 April 2015

My Tulips Smell

Being in an area that goes from winter to summer in a two weeks, growing tulips is a challenge. In about the span of one week, they open, bloom, and get fried to a crisp. In subsequent years, whether left in the ground or lifted in the spring and replanted in the fall, they are a big disappointment. So like an addict, I try to stay clean of spending money on tulips.

Every so often in the fall, photos on the tulip packages in the local nurseries (along with a discounted price) tempt me to a point of giving in. And after they bloom one year, my tulip has-beens proudly produce big leaves year after year, but no more blooms. Oh, every other year of so, one might pop out a bloom before going back to growing leaves.

In some years, I fertilize them up the wahzoo and water them frequently. But the weather sears them quickly before they have a chance to develop enough to bloom the following year. And this year we have Princess Irene tulips, the result of my latest willpower breakdown last autumn. They have bloomed now for over a week, probably because of our unusually cool spring.

This week, as I walked by, I noticed a slight fragrance. Only one other tulip I grew, West Point, had a sweet smell. Princess Irene was trying to make me feel good about spending my money on a one time, one-week fling. Lasting longer than normal this year was also a plus.

Also blooming at this mid-spring point in time are a few other tall Darwin hybrids from past years. One pink (Menton) by itself, one yellow (Yellow Dover) by itself, and one red (Red Apeldoorn) by itself. Orange Princess Irene is shorter, sweet smelling, and streaked with maroon on the outer orange petals, like recently graduating from Virginia Tech. Its leaves have a strong blue tint that contrasts with the orange.

After my lonely, homeless tulips are spent for the spring, I will dig them up and mix them together into one multicolored bed. In future years, I will look for three or four pops of miscellaneous color in a bounty of leaves, rather than one red here, one yellow there, and one pink somewhere.