One thing after another usually refers to a string of events you’d rather do without. The story of the tulips at the shop this spring sure started out that way. They broke ground and grew as if they were possessed in March. Alarming, this. Though no one believed the hot weather would stay on, the tulips didn’t know this. They were growing in a terrific hurry, as if they were late to the party. Wow, what bad luck to show up to an event a month early. Add to the mix-no rain. Dry and hot would soon become dry and very cold.
The semi double Darwin tulip Akebono was the first to bud, and show color. Long about this time, the temperatures were threatening to drop dramatically. As a precaution, we set horizontal bamboo stakes to just skim the tops of the plants. I had ordered a roll of row cover, knowing that summer weather in March could not come to any good end.
Sure enough, the cold weather returned with a vengeance.. Snow on the tulips-not something you see every day. We covered them for 4 nights in a row. They hated this. Though we had bamboo support for the cover, most every tulip bent over to the ground from the insult.
Of course, once we put the row cover and stakes away, the overnight temperatures threatened to dive again. We spent plenty of time bringing tender plants into the garage. Late in the day, I watered the bed thoroughly, and misted all of the tops to boot. The sight of ice on those tulips in the morning was heartstopping. It seems impossible, but water gives off heat as it freezes. I hoped the tulips themselves would be protected from frost.
It took 3 days, but those gangly stems finally stood up straight. I had mixed the Akebono tulips with the late blooming Cream Jewel and the strong yellow Roi du Midi. The later two had the good sense to lay low until the temperatures warmed some.
This is the best part of the mix. Once the Akebono started to drop petals, the single late tulips were coming on strong. One tulip after another can greatly extend the tulip season. Most things in the garden come one thing after. It doesn’t take so much to help a season to linger. Plant multiple varieties of tulips, rather than one.
The fresh group just coming on distract the eye from the early bloomer-although many of the Akebono.are just reaching their best. Think relay race. Or strength in diversity. Those double tulips handled the bad weather incredibly well; they have been in flower for three difficult weeks. I can see they will start to decline soon. The Cream Jewel is vigorously in full bloom, and the dark yellow Roi du Midi is just getting good.
It looks like the tulips will peak by the end of April. Stop by-they really are beautiful right now.