The Great Tulip Growing Adventure : Photos from a Spring Garden


Hey guys … You know what happens when you plant 30 tulip bulbs in your garden one fall, and then another 35 the following fall? You end up with lots of flowers and if you’re into taking pictures, that’s a lot to photograph! So pull up a chair, if you will, and take a look.

Something I didn’t realize before beginning the ‘Great Tulip Growing Adventure’ I’ve embarked upon over the past couple of years, is that there are so many different kinds of tulips. I just thought they were all the same with only the colour of the petals changing. I also didn’t realize that you could get early flowering ones and later blooming ones. This year, ours began flowering at the end of April this year, with the last ones opening yesterday (a whole month later).


↑ This shot of the very first buds was taken on April 26th and I called it ‘Anticipation’. ↑

I’ve also been learning a lesson about which ones will come back dependably year after year and which are basically a one year thing. Contrary to what we were told by the store-clerk, they can’t all be counted on to come back after the first year and I’ve read that many gardeners just treat those as annuals and just replace them every year. Then some others will multiply over the years and form drifts of flowers.

One particularly spectacular ‘red double tulip’ (seen in this post from last spring) sent up a lot of leaves in its second year but only one bud. And then after watching that bud fatten up for several days, I looked out the window to find that it had been broken off by an animal during the night. It must have looked like something good to eat but turned out to be otherwise because I found its remains scattered on the ground. Oh well, ‘lunch-bag let down’, as the saying goes.

There were a couple more buds that were broken by animals, but they weren’t ravaged so I was able to bring them inside and watch them bloom in some vases that I recently found at the thrift store. (You can see the thrifting haul that included the silver vase here, and the blue vase here, if you’re into thrifting.)




Next are some of the new ones we planted in the fall. Time will tell as to whether they’ll be back next year, but even if not, they were a joy to see this year.

The first ones were from a couple of variety packs of bulbs that are known as Lily Flowered Tulips for obvious reasons as the blooms resemble lilies …








This purple one is known as a ‘Double Flowering Tulip’, not because they flower twice but because they have a double set of petals within each flower …


This next one, charmingly called ‘Little Beauty’, is a tiny thing that is on a very short stem. They only opened up yesterday and are out there in full bloom right now as I type. They’re so cute and my fingers are crossed that they’ll come back again next year.  [FOLLOW UP : They did!]


As for the tulips we planted the previous year, which bloomed again this year, the best show came from these yellow ones …



We also got one of these purple beauties, trimmed in white, to come back again this year. As you can see by the three shots, I treasured that single bloom …




We also got one more type that came back from that previous planting but I didn’t get a good shot of it beyond the tightly closed buds in the ‘Anticipation’ photo shown above.

These next ones date back to before beginning our tulip growing adventure, the red ones (called Red Emperors) having been planted by the people who lived in our home before us, so more than 14 years ago (I’ve been telling people we have lived here for 10 years until Nick corrected me the other day. I seem to have lost 4 years there!). These have really established themselves in our yard and we get quite a number of them every year, growing in drifts. It’s funny how they seem to have moved themselves to where they like it best over the years, because they are not blooming at all where they were originally …



↑ taken the day before the wind blew the last of the petals off. Now it’s gone for another year. ↑

These white ones have been quite dependable year over year, after I randomly planted them about 7 years ago after passing a display of tulip bulbs in a grocery store one day on my way home from an appointment. I remember being rushed at the time that I grabbed them and today I thank my busy former self for taking the time …



It has been lovely and very cheerful having so much colour in our garden for the past month and Nick and I have agreed that we’ll be heading to the garden centre again this fall to find some new varieties we haven’t tried yet! Tulip planting is a cheap thrill.

Also last fall I planted a couple of non-tulip bulbs I should mention here, if only to keep track for myself : there were some white grape hyacinths that came up ok, but were nothing spectacular to look at next to their purple mates, which come up so beautifully year after year. I also put in 5 Ornamental Alliums (which are non-edible members of the onion family, and are expected to have big round purple flowers). The buds are just ready to burst open right now, so I’ll show you how they turned out in a future post. Finally on the bulb front, I got 4 daffodil flowers this year! Yes, this is exciting to me since I’ve done everything I can to help this patch of supposedly simple-to-grow flowers to thrive, with only one bloom last year. So I quadrupled my yield … woohoo.

If you’re into gardening and tulips I’d love to hear about your experiences. I know that more diligent gardeners than I would be going about digging up all those bulbs now after they’ve bloomed, shaking off the dirt and storing them in a cool dark place for the summer and then replanting them again in the fall, but alas I have too much tidying up and trimming to do out there as it is, without taking on that extra job. I unfortunately have the sad task of cutting back an alarming number of dead branches from my beloved ancient rose bush (this one), that did not fare well at all over the brutally and uniquely cold winter that we’ve just been through. I will admit, that looking at last year’s post about that beautiful rose bush almost makes me feel like weeping over that plant. There is still minimal signs of life but it was severely damaged. Nick and I are planning on cutting it all back this afternoon and I’m doubtful that there will be any pale pink roses this year.

I also lost my old pink Phlox plant to the cold weather. I’m sad about the loses but, hey, worse things could have happened, and I highly appreciate all that I have, both in the garden and in life overall.


Thanks for taking a look,
xo loulou