I have mixed feelings about tulips, On the one hand they are essential to the spring palette and their range of shapes and colours offers such versatility to March and April bouquets. A quick peruse of a Parkers or Bloms bulb catalogue offers such an overwhelming choice that you will never be able to consider buying the rather small headed, boring tulip bunches in the shops again.
On the other hand, tulip time can be an anxious few weeks for the flower grower. I grow a lot of them in the polytunnel for an earlier 'forced' crop. Grown under cover also encourages much longer stems. However, it is always a gamble. If we have a cool wet spring than the tulips are sheltered from the rain and are ready in the correct early, mid and late order. If we get a hot spell, like a couple of weeks ago than they tend to all come at once. This is often difficult from a sales point of view but I have been fortunate this year with lots of early weddings.
I treat my tulips like annuals, they are planted densely and shallowly so that they can just be tugged out of the ground and the bulb snipped off. This rather dramatic act always makes my customers squeal! If I do not harvest the flowers than the bulb is lifted and dried for replanting the following autumn. We put them in the field using the potato planter on the tractor, along with scented narcissi and dutch iris.
Some of my favourite varieties for cutting include the viridaflora type like Spring Green, Greenland and Dolls Minuet.
I love all the voluptuous peony tulips we have used a lot of Montreaux in bridal bouquets this year. For a contrasting shape the lily-flowered China Pink is a wonderfully tall elegant tulip for large vases.
I enjoy tulips arranged with a bit of blossom from the orchard. I always tend to put them in the vase slightly short because I know they will carry on growing and look just right after a couple of days.