Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Choose a Tulip Combination

Tulip 'Princess Irene' and Tulip 'Cum Laude' at Gilmore Gardens in May 2012

I have put much thought this week into what bulbs we should start at Havenwood for our first official spring season next year. There are crocuses, snowdrops, rock irises, daffodils, fritillaries, grape hyacinths, anemones, summer snowflakes, camassias, allium and - not least - tulips to think about. That is a lot to hold in ones head!

When it comes to choosing tulips in particular, I have found a trick that really helps me have a good idea about what the finished planting is going to look like: just Google it. (Isn't that the answer to many of life questions in our modern world!) Any browser (Bing. etc) with an image search capability will do.

The tulip is really hard to pin down, as its range of colors is so immense, even when looking at a single flower! From day to day, hour to hour, its colors change with the sun. It is hard enough to think about all of the different bloom times, heights, flower forms... but throw in that transient color and placing it correctly the first time becomes very chancy indeed.

But, when you do am image search in Google, the varying different types of light and conditions that the photos capture gives you a much better idea of what to expect in your garden. And of course this can be used with any plant combination, but I have found it essential for tulips.

Here are a few examples from my thinking this week.  I took screen captures while using three to four different windows layered over one another. You can see what variety it is at the top of the pictured browser windows...

Tulip Rembrandt's Favorite + Tulip Violet Beauty + Muscari Valerie Finnis
For the Pergola garden...

Tulip Rembrandt's Favorite + Tulip Violet Beauty + Tulip Pink Diamond
The Pergola garden with a pink?

Tulip Ballerina + Tulip Akebono + Anemone bland White Splendour
For the Knot Garden...

Crocus Cream Beauty + Anemone White Splendour + Tulip Ballerina + Tulip Akebono
Knot Garden with a crocus...

Crocus tommasinianus + Crocus Ruby Giant + Galanthus elwesii
For the Spring Vista...

Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin' + Galanthus ikariea + Anemone blanda White Splendour
For the Birch Walk...

Fritillaria meleagris + Leucojum + Camassia quamash
For the damp sites in the Woodland...

Peony Sarah Bernhardt + Peony Coral Sunset + Peony Bunker Hill
An image search is also good for looking at a peony combination for the Knot Garden...

Peony 'Flame' + Iris siberica 'butter and sugar'
And maybe a combination taken from Stan Hywet for a bed in the Pergola garden...
Maybe you will find this trick helpful too?

What flowers would you like to image search on Google today?


  1. I also use Google regularly to research plant characteristics and see photos. It makes planning so much easier! I have several hundred tulips and other bulbs coming soon to plant. I chose 'Barcelona', 'Negrita' and 'Renown' tulips this year since they are supposed to be good perennials.

    1. Your tulips are always a treat! I look forward to seeing those next spring :)
      I am thinking this years order is going to be my biggest so far. I am usually in the hundreds... contemplating thousands this year, but we will see how the finances hold out ;)

    2. Negrita returns year after year in my garden, you've made a good choice.

  2. What a great idea! I frequently Google images to get ideas, but never thought to open multiple windows to look at them side-by-side. Thanks! Your plantings and designs always look spectacular. I can't wait until next spring to find out how it all turns out! :)

    1. Glad it is helpful! I was a dawning for me too... :)

  3. Those are all beautiful combinations. But my heart skips a beat when I see peonies. Just love them. Wish they would last longer. Hubby makes fun of me as a lot of the roses that I have look like peony blooms too. Great idea with the side-by-side.

  4. That is certainly a welcome tool for helping with planting partners, you have some beautiful combinations there. I will wait to see what you will be planting in your new garden!

  5. the multiple screen is a great idea Julie. Simple, obvious really when someone else does it! Thank you, I'll be using that method in future.

    1. Glad it is helpful, Christina :)
      Happy September to you.


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