T. dasystemon

Yes, every year is the same; I go on and on about these
understated members of a show-off plant group. The fact is, I still
don’t see these used enough.  They come up about the same time
as daffodils (most of them) and provide reliable spring color at a
time it’s needed most. They have cool names—sylvestris!
turkistanica! vvedenskyi!—that I find much more interesting than
“Blushing Beauty” or “Big Smile” (as worthy as these
hybrids are).

Species tulips are said to perennialize better; I am not sure I
can speak to that. I refresh my plantings on a yearly basis and can
testify that I have seen varieties like t. clusiana and t.
dasystemon persist and maybe spread over at least ten years. But,
again, I’m always planting; that’s the reality one must accept
with tulips of any kind.

These erythronium (another
favorite) are complemented by mostly nonflowering greigii foliage.

And they’re not always dainty. T. vvedenskyi has big flowers
that age very interestingly into large red claws. Tulips that I
group with species, as they are also quite early, are the greigii
cultivars. Even catalog verbiage can’t praise these enough. My
front garden never gets the baking that all tulips—but especially
hybrids— need, so, too often, after a couple years, I get
 foliage and no flowers. Not a problem with some of the greigii,
as this group produces foliage that’s almost as striking as its
blooms. Maybe just as.

T. acuminata, toward the
end of its bloom cycle

Finally, one of the species, t. acuminata (said to be a 1813
introduction), can compete with allium vineale ‘Hair’ for
weirdness. Anna Pavord calls it “spidery and mad,” and I agree.
It’s also one of the last tulips of any kind to come up, further
setting it apart. I’ve taken pictures of it in June.

Species tulips are lower in visual impact but they’re also
lower in foliage; it tends to be minimal and it declines quickly.
My goal is to have a front garden filled for a few weeks with every
different type. I’m not there yet.

Again with the species tulips
originally appeared on GardenRant on May 7, 2019.

Read more: gardenrant.com

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