Although not the earliest tulips - the Kaufmanniana and Greigii occupy that position - the long-lasting nature of these tulips right through April and into May makes them an invaluable purchase for a spring garden. Each sturdy stem is resplendent with a single large flower that is bowl shaped. Each 'bowl' contains petticoat layers of gorgeous coloured petals such that the overall effect is to resemble a particularly generous peony flower. In full sun these flowers can open up and are saucer sized - up to 12 cm across - and so are consequently seriously impressive. The collection includes Blue Diamond, a rare gem of a tulip with blue/purple flowers with silvery edges; Monte Carlo, a zingy sulphur yellow playboy of a tulip; Peach Blossom with its archetypal feminine frippery flower and last but not least, that number one hit - the reddest Abba. If you prefer, you can buy some or all of these individually from our range of premium sized tulip bulbs.
The impact of all of these bulbs together is a technicolour feast. However, if you prefer themed planting, since they are packed separately you can play around with various different combinations or grow each variety separately. Even with sturdy stems, the flowers are relatively large so avoid planting them in a windy situation. Otherwise they make a giant statement in pots, underplanted with Muscari. The fragrant Abba and Blue Diamond lend themselves to being grown somewhere where you can enjoy their freesia style smell - window boxes by an open window are good. As large and ornate specimens they can hold their own in a border and will liven up perennial plants that are yet to strut their stuff. All of them would be good companions to silver-leafed plants. And never forget the enormous beauty of these tulips in flower arrangements so buy some extra to put in a corner for cutting. If you really fall in love with Double Early Tulips, take the time to investigate the Double Late tulips too.
Tulips were first cultivated by the Turks around 1000 AD. Ambassador Ogier de Busbecq sent some from Constantinople to a biologist called Clusius in Vienna who planted them, and the rest is history. The word tulip is a corruption of the Turkish word for turban.