Tulips and bins
|'Sweet Impression' (pale pink) with 'Pink Impression' tulips, and a white Tulipa 'Purissima|
Two things are guaranteed to irritate me at this time of year: tulips and refuse collections.
How on earth can tulips be irritating, I hear you ask. Well, maybe it's me, or maybe it's my soil, or maybe – having made a huge effort to plant them and label them in an orderly fashion - I've made a mistake somewhere. Whatever, at least one lot of tulips each year come up a totally different colour from the description. So this year, I've compiled a list of the worst offenders and I eagerly await your comments.
I'm not quite sure why I bought this tulip, because what I desperately need are tulips in deep, moody colours like purple and maroon, not yellow ones. This is what comes of reading bulb catalogues in the autumn, when your garden is full of russet and yellow and orange.
Description: Sarah Raven catalogue says "beautiful golden tulip, feathered with the colours of a sunset".
Actual colour in my garden: a brilliant orange-scarlet.
Quick Google check: reveals images of golden tulips feathered with colours of sunset, AND brilliant orange scarlet tulips.
Tulipa 'Brown Sugar
Description: Sarah Raven catalogue says coppery bronze, exotic.
Actual colour in my garden: Hasn't flowered yet (get a move on!) but looks as if it has some pale yellow.
Quick Google check: reveals images of red tulip with pale yellow edges.
I am beginning to wonder whether I have labelled the 'Brown Sugar' tulips with the 'Jenny' labels and vice versa. Technically, that isn't possible, because I plant and label as I go along, but who knows?
I love these Darwin Hybrids, which produce beautiful flowers on tall straight stems, and seem to come back year after year without any trouble. I have 'Design Impression', 'Pink Impression' and 'Sweet Impression'. 'Sweet Impression' is the most gorgeous pale pink, flushed with gold, but 'Design Impression' and 'Pink Impression' seem to me to be virtually identical – rose pink with a hint of coral. There's also 'Salmon Impression', which I suspect may be coral with hints of rose pink. Never mind, they are very pretty and I love them.
Tulipa 'Abu Hassan'
Description: Parkers Wholesale calls it "deep mahogany, with a golden-yellow edge".
Actual colour in my garden: A sort of washed-out scarlet with a whiteish edge.
Quick Google check: unanimously mahogany with a golden-yellow edge.
Sarah Raven, who sells beautiful combinations of tulips, recommends 'Cream (or Creme) Upstar' and 'Menton'. I didn't have much success with 'Cream Upstar' last year, and I have never managed to grow 'Menton' successfully. If you want a substitute for 'Menton', try 'Veronique Sanson', which is not only a lovely colour (rose pink flushed with orange) but is scented as well.
This year I am also trying 'Slawa', 'Gavota' and 'Carnaval de Nice'. Watch this space.
Do all tulips misbehave in my garden? Not at all – here's a short list of reliable performers:
Tulipa 'Flaming Spring Green': red, green and cream striped petals, very striking viridiflora.
Tulipa fosteriana 'Purissima': possibly my favourite tulip of all time. Comes back year after year, looks cream or even pale yellow when the flowers first appear, but ages to white.
Tulipa 'Cairo': Fabulous coppery orange colour with classic Triumph shape, comes back year after year.
Tulipa 'Apricot Beauty': Not so good at reappearing, but a lovely flower, and a consistently peachy colour. Very pretty with forget-me-nots and spring blossom.
If anyone can recommend dark purple or maroon tulip varieties, please do! New, "better" varieties seem to come out all the time.
Oh yes, the refuse collections. Here in the Cotswolds, you can pay extra to have a green bin licence, which means your garden rubbish is collected by a refuse truck. I have two green bins, so pay double. However, the green bin collection often doesn't happen - usually because there is a lot of garden refuse and they run out of time or space, or because there is a lot of black bin (general rubbish) refuse, and they don't have time to do the green bins.
You can phone or email the council to report a missed collection, which I have just done. My green bins are full to the brim, with a queue of green waste (mainly weeds and grass clippings) waiting in piles and buckets and bags around the garden, so I was not amused to find they had not been emptied today.
However, the nice polite lady at the council told me that despite paying for a green bin collection, this did not mean I would automatically have my rubbish collected. Huh? "If you read the small print," she said, "you'll see that payment does not guarantee collection."
I think she told me this to make me feel better. Needless to say, it didn't.