For the tulip aficionado these hour-glassed blooms are right on trend. All of them have long petals that are slightly pointed and reflex like outstretched hands to reach up to the sun thereby slimming the centre of the flower so that the resultant silhouette echoes that of the Dior dresses of the '50s. The collection includes the classic White Triumphator, a pure white tulip beloved by Vita Sackville-West swaying gently on tall stems; Ballerina, a rich and alluring orange with stamina that belies her beauty; Claudia, plum pink with white edges for a two-tone look and Yonina, a relatively new pink and white tulip differentiated by the violet base to its amazing extra-elongated petals.
With flowers as beautiful as these, this is a simple job. The bulbs are packed separately so that you can play around with the combinations of colours; Claudia, Yonina and White Triumphator are an obvious trio for those who love pink and white and Ballerina could adorn a lead planter or looks wonderful surrounded by forget-me-nots on the edge of a green-heavy border. The graceful shape of the Lily tulip makes an ideal focal point in a traditional herbaceous border that is yet to come into its own or can look contemporary and clean-cut for a more minimalist look. If possible, put in some extra bulbs in a less obvious part of the garden so that you can raid it for cut flowers now and then. Lily tulips are perhaps the best tulips for cut flowers.
The lily tulip was indeed very fashionable in the 1950s and has now come storming back into popularity again. They do not have the same range of colours as some of the other categories but more than make up for that in their elegant shape and the fact that the flowers last for a long time.