Did you know that tulip bulbs were worth a fortune in the 17th century?
Yes, one single bulb was extremely valuable if it was thought to be unique.
Sadly tulip bulbs are not so popular these days and garden centres don’t stock too many because they don’t sell.
One of my earliest memories was seeing tulip flowers in my parents’ garden at Station Road, Copnor. They were so beautiful I would hug them and my mum would tell me off.
There was no need to scold me because the whole lot were blown up by a bomb in 1942 and to prove the point there is a row of council houses where we used to live.
Pam and I are frequent visitors at garden centres and we both adore tulips. This is the ideal time to plant them and they can be planted in any garden. There are pictures on the fronts of the packs so all we need to do is choose the most attractive blooms and just check on the height of the flowers.
Do you know that the tulip flower is actually in the bulb? Yes, the bulb needs to be planted with three to four inches over the top of the bulb point upwards and blooms will appear in the spring.
In the garden a tablespoon of sharp sand underneath each bulb is a good idea and if planted during late November there will be less damage by slugs. A piece of shallot bulb will disguise the smell of the bulb and the squirrels will leave them alone.
Are tulips any good in pots? Yes, plant them in John Innes number 2 or 3 compost. Place little bits of crock to cover the holes in the base of the pot but make sure there is about three to five inches of potting compost over the tops of the bulbs.
I often get told off when I ask audiences if they suffer from the wind, but short-stemmed tulips are brilliant in windy areas. Have a look at Pinocchio for little boys and Red Riding Hood for little girls. These are both short and have strong shoots. We found that Red Riding Hood is now available with double- flowering red blooms, well worth a try.
They will look great in the stone trough in the front garden.
Our favourites are Ballerina, Apeldoorn Elite (both have orange flowers), Oxford – a Darwin tulip with bold red flowers on extra strong stems – and finally West Point, a lily-flowered bloom with pointed bright yellow petals.
Are all of these good in windy areas?