Let's leave that rather unusual name to one side for a moment, and concentrate on the beauty of the Gorilla tulip. She's tall, undeniably handsome, and blessed with the finest, most delicately fringed, silky petals, in a rich shade of purple plum. She's a mid-season variety, so will show up from April to May, the tassel-tipped flowers opening from gorgeous tight, deep burgundy buds to stand proud at 50cm tall in beds, borders, window boxes and containers. The stems and foliage are glaucous, nature's perfect counterpoint to the saturated wine of the petals and buds. Of course if you're looking for pastel colours, parrots rather than gorillas or a classic colour palette of crimson and yellow, there are plenty more tulip options to take a look here.
A sizeable troop of gorillas (yes, that's the collective noun, although 'band' or 'whoop' is also acceptable, or so says Google) weaved in and out of candy pink Fusarino is a spectacular thing, the deep maroon textured blooms a fine juxtaposition to Fusarino's simple goblet-shape and unapolagetically sweet pink. Or draw on the classic, well-proved combination of tulips and wallflowers: deep burnished orange Fire King makes a bold, striking combination with claret coloured tulips; or cool things down a little with an underplanting of White Dame. Apart from the striking colour combinations you get with tulips and wallflowers, another advantage is that the wallflowers create a good dense greenery that covers the fading leaves of the tulips really well. On a smaller scale, Gorilla works well in generous pots, too, alongside pale lilac and white tulip Sweet Flag perhaps, or combined with other spring bulbs such as pink and white splashed Fondant hyacinths. Either way, in containers, or borders, do give Gorilla well-drained soil and a good deal of sun (south facing is best, although west or east will work too), and plant at the end of autumn to wipe out viral and fungal diseases. Once flowered, leave the foliage to die back before removing. You can lift and dry the tulips, then replant the following autumn, if you like, for more failsafe year-on-year flowering. If you don't, chance are they won't last quite as many years. If you have enough to cut and bring indoors, all tulips carry on growing once in a vase and can get quite bendy. To combat this, try wrapping the stems in paper and winding around some wire, to keep the stems straight. Dunk in water for a few hours and then arrange in a vase.
Strong and powerful, handsome and thought-provoking – these must be the characteristics that inspired this tulip's name, although it's pure conjecture as nobody seems to know for sure. Gorilla was introduced in 2008, however, so she's a youngster still.