Ballerina tulips have elongated, slightly pointed and reflexed petals which do remind one a little of a graceful dancer en pointe. From above, the lily shaped flowers look like a six pointed star. The amber orange of the petals will remind you of the soft orange of the marigolds loved in the religions of so many countries or even of aged terracotta pots. Therefore it is not a flat, dull orange but one enlivened by some purple and wine-coloured markings. Unusually Ballerina also has a delicious scent, somewhere between mandarin and violets. It is a flawless and justifiably popular tulip.
The right company
As a prima Ballerina tulip (irresistible) this is a plant that can dance solo set against the low green foliage of grasses like Miscanthus sinensis. Perhaps in a pas de deux - the late single Purple Prince has to be a suitor surely? - Or she will conform to the corps de ballet when planted en masse or with lots of other lily tulips in a group setting. The bronze foliage of the Carex grasses looks good too - Carex comans or buchananii are recommended - or try the billowing Euphorbia characias subsp Wulfenii or Euphorbia polychroma. Another attractive option would be to combine 'Ballerina' with the fennel like Ferula tingitana 'Cedric Morris'. At 56 cm she is bordering on catwalk model height and so needs to be planted amongst other shrubs or grasses as above. If you plant her in a pot, site it somewhere sheltered. You could try to reflect the slightly splayed, urn shape of the flower by planting lily tulips in an urn with a similar form. The amber orange looks fantastic against lead (faux or not) and stone, ideally next to a door or open window so that you can enjoy the wonderful scent. Remember also that Ballerina tulips have real stamina and so performs for ages, with endless encores, year after year.
If you really wanted to theme your garden you could also buy a ''Ballerina' Rose', a gorgeous, purple-veined Ballerina geranium and for something edible, how about a Ballerina Samba Apple tree! Invite Darcy Bussell round for a cup of tea on the terrace and all will be complete...