Mid-season Tulips 2021 – mid April to early May

Each year we try to extend the period of tulips in the garden by choosing a range of varieties that start flowering in late March and continue the show right through to late May. I reported in April on this year’s early tulips and now it is time to look at the successes and failures of the mid-season varieties – and there have certainly been both!

It has been a strange year so far with a very dry April followed now by a very wet May. The other problem has been that some of the varieties we ordered have proved to be the wrong thing and this has certainly upset the colour combinations and mixes that we had hoped to create.

One specific problem that we had was with a mass of bulbs that were supposed to be Menton Exotic. Menton Exotic is a peachy pink, double variety but what emerged to our horror were these bright yellow/orange blooms of a similar structure but very different colour.

We were given a complete refund but having nurtured them all winter protecting them from the mice, voles and squirrels they were a bit of a disappointment. In the right place, mixed with an appropriate mix of other shades they would have been lovely and we have in fact now grown to enjoy them after the initial shock. I have no idea what variety they are.

One of the real successes of this year was the variety Tulip ‘Lasting Love’. It is such a sumptuous colour and was a real pleasure to have in the garden. It has proved to be long lasting and well behaved despite the heavy rains of May this year.

Tulip ‘Lasting Love’ (photographed on 16 April 2021)

‘Lasting Love’ works extremely well when backed with evergreen grey foliage. Here it is set off by a new Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Ball’ which we planted last summer when we totally renovated this particular bed to make a ‘moon garden‘. As an aside we have been very pleased with how this Pittosporum variety has kept its shape and colour during the winter and is it growing away well again this spring.

A second combination that has worked well for us this year is ‘Havran’ and ‘Slawa’. Both tulips flowered together (sometimes a problem when you try new combinations) and were of a similar height and temperament. They were fresh and tidy for a long period and stood up well to the very strong winds and rain we had at one time.

Tulip varieties ‘Havran’ and ‘Slawa’ (photographed on 27 April 2021)

In previous years we lost a lot of bulbs to the squirrels and mice when we planted them directly in the ground in November. This year we decided to grow more in large containers and protect them with a narrow gauge, strong wire mesh. This has worked really well and we have lost very few this year. Certainly something we will do again I think.


Potted Highlights

We have been experimenting this year by creating a range of different summer planters to add pops of vibrant colour throughout the garden. Next year is our daughter’s wedding which we are hosting here in the garden and it is giving us a chance to see just what works and what is less successful. It is still early days but here are six that look particularly promising so far.

One: Surfinia Pink Vein


These pink surfinias, grown from plugs, are stunning little plants producing huge numbers of these striking flowers. We have planted them in a large terracota planter surrounding a central pink leaved cordyline and partnered with grey leaved Helichrysum petiolare, purple verbena and white bacopa.


Two: Begonia odorata ‘Angelique’ and Begonia ‘Cascading splendide ballerina’

In previous years we have found that these large begonias make a real statement on the patio. We normally grow the lighter ‘Angelique’ but this year have partnered it with the orange ‘Ballerina’. Looked after carefully over winter the corms will grow larger and larger every year so an initial investment can provide years of pleasure. I think these sit nicely with the lavender and wisteria.


Three: Super Petunia (Beautical) – French Vanilla, Caramel Yellow and Cinnamon

Super Petunias are calibrachoa and petunia hybrids. So far they are performing extremely well and it will be interesting to see if we can keep them looking fresh and wonderful throughout the summer months.


Four: Lotus Fire Vine

We have also been looking for something that will trail nicely from hanging baskets and provide a more tropical look. These Lotus Fire Vine plants have been slow to get going but they are now coming into flower producing these interesting claw-like orange flowers which look lovely against the glaucus foliage.


Five: Super Petunia (Beautical) – Bordeaux and Sunray Pink

Here we have some more Super Petunias this time in pink and a deep, dark velvety burgundy. They look great contrasting against the dark Cotinus and the silver foliage of the Santolina.


Six: Zaluzianskya (Nigh Phlox)

Finally for something completely different. As the wedding is in August next year we are of course hoping for a warm, sultry summer evening where the guests can wander amongst the plants and enjoy a garden at dusk filled with scent. Zaluzianskya is certainly not a large plant but these tiny flowers fill the air with a wonderful fragrance.

Scented evening flowers of Zaluzianskya capensis

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.


Suttons ( suttons.co.uk ) – Super Petunias, Surfinias and Lotus Fire Vine

Parkers ( dutchbulbs.co.uk ) – Begonias

Chiltern Seeds ( chilternseeds.co.uk ) – Night Phlox

Using six perennials to create a colourful spring planter

The squirrels (and possibly mice and voles as well) have had a field day with some of our tulip bulbs this year. The devastation has resulted in some of our larger patio containers now having just one or two surviving tulips. They look a very sorry sight I’m afraid.

We decided that action needed to be taken if we were to get a decent spring show this year. Last autumn we created some very successful winter planters using a range of hardy evergreen perennial plants and so we thought we might try this again to create some instant impact using spring flowering perennials.

This is certainly not a cheap option but all of the plants we have used can be transplanted out into the garden at a later stage to grow on and establish more permanently. It is therefore not at all difficult to convince yourself that the long term value for money will justify the initial outlay. More importantly it is also great fun simply wandering around the garden centre with your trolley choosing a collection of plants that sit really well together. You can spend a good few hours at this finding the right combination of colours, heights and textures!

So this is the selection of six plants that we finally decided on. I have include some text from the plant labels so you get a better feel for each component.

Cordyline ‘Southern Splender’ – long thin leaves with an arching habit that bear bold longitudinal stripes of pink, red and brown.


Heuchera ‘Marmalade’ – rich, shiney undulating lime green and russet to amber foliage with pink undersides


Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ – ultra-purple glossy leaves with fluted edges.


Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pink Frost, Snow Rose’ – silvery green foliage with red stems provide a foil for the soft pink flowers which turn to burgundy red.


Primula ‘Princess F1 Vintage’ – produces clusters of creamy apricot coloured buds that open to frilly pink flowers surrounded by deep green leaves.


Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ – a variegated variety with foliage which is blue green with golden margins and reddish hues in winter as the tips start to form flower buds. It produces large heads of creamy, lime green and yellow flowers from February through to May.


And finally these are the newly planted up containers (although I am not sure my photographs really do them justice). We were perhaps a little ambitious in how many plants we could actually get into the large urn and so we have used a number of other terracotta pots as well. I think this has actually worked out quite well as it creates additional height and interest in the collection.

All-in-all we are really very happy with how they have turned out. Looked after carefully they should develop and fill out further giving us pleasure over many months (and potentially years).



The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.