The Claudia tulip belongs to that exclusive group of tulips whose flowers look like lilies. There isn't the range of colours in this category that you see in the others but Lily tulips compensate by their amazingly long-lasting blooms and their attenuated, reflexed, Oh! so elegant form. They are the bewitching catwalk models of the tulip world. Claudia herself is an indefinable pinky/purple colour a little like Colonel Plum in Cluedo if that is not too an unflattering comparison, with a remarkable white border edging each petal. The combination is most fetching and is set off by silvery-green foliage.
There aren't many Claudias around but two of them - Cardinale and Schiffer - have to rate as some of the most beautiful women in the world and this tulip is right up there with them. With an amazing '50s hourglass figure, cinched waist and flattering colouring, pots filled with Tulip Claudia will be a catwalk or box office success. Make sure that the pots are somewhere sheltered though. Utterly versatile, Claudia is fascinating enough to stand on her own or be surrounded by friends - pink and white Triumph Tulip Hemisphere would add sparkle to the cast, or perhaps use White Dreams as an understudy to Claudia's starring role. All brightly coloured tulips look wonderful emerging from the foliage of the fashionable ornamental grasses which in spring are yet to get into their stride; Miscanthus gracilis or Deschampsia cespitosa would make wonderful foils to the charms of Claudia. Anyone looking for a more traditionally shaped tulip at this time of year should look no further than the single late tulips like 'Queen of Night' or Menton.
The word tulip comes from the Turkish word for Turban. Tulip bulbs originated from Turkey and Asia Minor and it was an ambassador in Constantinople who first sent tulip bulbs to Europe for cultivation and investigation.