Category Archives: Tulips

Our Staff’s Favorite Tulips for Fall Planting

Here at the farm, we’re in the midst of planting a whole lot of Tulip bulbs for next spring’s displays. If you’ve ever found yourself a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of Tulips available for planting, we thought a few suggestions might help. We polled about a dozen members of our staff and asked them each to select a favorite. In our humble estimation, their choices could not be better. If you’re looking for a great Tulip or a selection of different ones to add to the spring show in your garden, you would be hard pressed to find better varieties than those highlighted here. You may rely on any of them to bring beauty, color, and joy to your spring garden. (If you wish to also enjoy your Tulips in vases indoors, make sure to plant extra for cutting.)

Tulip ‘Apricot Foxx’

“Tender tones of apricot, raspberry, and honey comingle in the blossoms of Tulip ‘Apricot Foxx.’ You can pair this beauty with almost any other spring bloomer, and it flatters every companion.”

Mary A., Product Information Manager


Tulip ‘Purissima Blonde’

“The variegated foliage stands out in the spring garden. The white blooms and colorful foliage pair well with yellow and white Daffodils. They bloom together in our area. They tend to be more perennial than other Tulips. For great companions try Daffodils ‘Merel’s Favourite’ and ‘Lemon Sailboat.’”

Cheryl D., Nursery Inventory and Merchandise Manager

Tulip ‘Blue Diamond’

“I’ve planted ‘Blue Diamond’ Tulips the last few years and they never fail to elicit excited comments when their double purple flowers are in full bloom. They add a touch of surprise to the garden and mix wonderfully with other pink or white Tulips.”

Tom B., Store Manager

Tulip ‘Prinses Irene’

“Each of these beautiful blossoms is like a painting, the warm orange petals variously flamed and feathered in purple. For an added surprise, the flowers are fragrant. They are stunning on their own or planted amid a sea of Muscari armeniacum and/or Anemone blanda ‘Blue Shades.’”

Deb H., Senior Copywriter

Tulip bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’

“Small and quite delicate looking but solidly perennial for me – approaching the 10-year mark and still going strong.”

Eliot A. W., Owner, White Flower Farm

Tulip ‘Big Love’

“Tulip ‘Big Love’ is my favorite. It has elegant big blossoms with an exceptional coloration of deep reddish purple with white hearts. It brings back such wonderful memories of my Nonni’s Tulip garden!”

Michelle T., Customer Service Manager

Tulip ‘Finola’

“I love the play of pink, white, and pale green on each flower of Tulip ‘Finola,’ and those double blooms are so packed with petals!”

Liz Z., Director of e-Commerce

Tulip ‘Elsenburg’

“I love Parrot Tulip ‘Elsenburg’ because people can’t believe that, yes, that is a Tulip.”

Pam W., Customer Support Representative

Tulip ‘Orca’

“Striking double orange blossoms are sturdy in spring rains and very long lasting. Blends well with deep purple Tulips as well as yellow. Pink, too, if you’re looking for something bright and cheerful. Also beautiful when forced for early spring containers. A favorite of mine since discovering it a few years ago.”

Lorraine C., President, White Flower Farm

Turkish Tapestry – Species Tulip Mix

“I love the way Species Tulips retain their wild nature, opening with the sun and closing again when a cloud passes, often with different coloration inside – very entertaining. Refined linear foliage dries up and disappears without a fuss after blooms have faded, and plants often increase over the years.”

Karen B., Senior Horticultural Advisor

Tulip ‘Pink Impression’

“One of my favorites is Tulip ‘Pink Impression.’ This large Darwin is the classic lipstick pink, tall and gorgeous. It is perfect mixed with spring-flowering perennials and groundcovers.”

Barb P., Nursery Manager

What’s Going On in the Garden?

At White Flower Farm, we welcome hundreds of visitors each year during the growing season, and we invite them to take leisurely strolls around our display gardens. But because not all of our customers and fellow gardeners are in range of the farm, and because even those who visit might like an occasional behind-the-scenes peek at what’s happening here, we’re introducing What’s Going On in the Garden?, a series of occasional emails devoted to providing glimpses of what’s blooming in our borders, along with notes about the activities in our gardens and greenhouses. We hope you’ll enjoy this chance to garden alongside us.

To start the series, we had to begin with this year’s Tulips, which were spectacular. In the midst of a cold and often gusty spring, these jewels of the early season taught us all something about beauty, resilience, and grace.

There is tremendous range of color and form in the Tulip world, and the variations extend to Tulip foliage. The bold colored blossoms of Tulip ‘Arjuna’ were enough to make this variety a standout in our spring border, and the rippled leaves with golden edges added another layer of interest.

The farm’s head gardener, Cheryl Whalen, and her staff always incorporate plenty of Tulips into display beds, but new this season, we had the pleasure of watching the Tulip trial garden we planted last fall come to life. Last October, our horticulture team and gardening staff worked together to plan and plant the garden, and the bulbs were laid out in neat, tidy rows, each carefully labeled. The purpose of the trial was to grow each and every variety we offer – roughly 130 in total – and watch the individual varieties develop, study their characteristics including color, height, and blossom time, and make certain their performances were consistent with what we advertise. The trial also allowed our staff to conceive of new Tulip combinations. The earliest Tulips began blossoming in early to mid April. Mid-season varieties came on strong shortly after, and the Tulip season ended with a grand finale in mid-May. As the trial garden demonstrated, planting an array of Tulips with various bloom times allows gardeners to orchestrate waves of color, a rolling sequence of bloom at a time when the garden – and gardeners – are starved for color.

On a chilly morning in April, members of the White Flower Farm staff review the activity in the Tulip trial bed.

This year’s unusually cool spring meant the Tulips were forced to endure a hard frost, and we all kept our fingers crossed that night. In the morning, the plants were bowed down and seeming to shiver, their stems and foliage showing the alarming watery appearance that indicates potential tissue damage. When this happens, the key is to leave the Tulips undisturbed. Touching them may cause tissue damage that could significantly worsen the effects of the cold. In this case, the sun’s heat soon warmed the atmosphere, and by that afternoon, the Tulips were standing themselves back up by degrees. Plants subjected to a freeze may not always rebound, but if the duration of the freeze is short, they are often able to shake it off. The Tulip show went on, the flowers bringing bright pops of gorgeous color to the landscape. The spectrum of Tulip colors, sizes, and forms – from classic goblets and Parrots to fringed and Peony styles, made the trial beds pure joy to behold, and they were a magnet for visitors to the White Flower Farm Store and display gardens.

Tulip ‘Purissima Blonde’ and other Tulips were bowed down in the trial garden after the temperature plummeted to 30 degrees F overnight. But the plants all shook off the cold and got on with the show.

Elsewhere around the farm, Tulips were showcased in a variety of ways that offer plenty of inspiration for home gardeners. Cheryl and her staff always plant bulbs in strategic places throughout beds and borders, and this year was no exception. In the beds nearest the store, Tulips were densely planted amid Daffodil bulbs. When the flowers emerged together this spring, the effect was a confetti of spring color.

Head gardener Cheryl Whalen creates new bulb mixes each year. This combination featuring two Tulip varieties and one Narcissus was a favorite that will be appearing in our fall catalog.

Along the Lloyd Border and in other display beds, clusters of colorful Tulips were planted out amid existing shrubs and emerging perennials, creating a river of bright, bold color to draw the eye along. In some cases, Cheryl and her staff planted Tulip bulbs amid perennial ground-covers such as Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not), Ajuga (Bugleweed), or Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (Creeping Jenny).

Different Tulip varieties in a range of harmonious colors are woven into the display beds at the farm. The blue ground cover is Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-Me-Not), a pretty partner for Tulips.

Tulips were also positioned in front of emerging shrubs such as Viburnum carlesii Spice Baby™ and Cotinus coggygria Winecraft Black® (Smokebush), so the emerging foliage or flowers could serve as an attractive backdrop. The colors provided by ground covers and shrubs heighten the effect of any Tulip display, creating a layered look and lively color contrasts.

Tulip ‘Sweet Light’ glows in the early spring garden with the fragrant flowers of Viburnum Spice Baby™ and our Hyacinth May Day Bouquet Collection adding color and perfume in the background.

Tulips, generally speaking, should be treated as annuals. While some varieties, including Species Tulips and Perennial Tulips such as Darwin Hybrids and Impression Tulips, may flower for up to three years, the majority should not be relied upon for repeat bloom in subsequent springs. At the farm, we are in the process of digging up and composting all of this spring’s Tulips and ordering the varieties we will be planting this fall. The fun of this process is that each autumn brings the opportunity to try new varieties and color combinations. Removing spent Tulips from the spring garden also opens up bare spots that can be filled with annuals or perennials that add a different kind of beauty to the garden as the season progresses.

What are we planting in the trial garden in place of the Tulips? Loads and loads of Dahlia tubers. And we’ll have plenty to tell you about that as the flowers begin to emerge in late summer.