Trippin’ through the Tulips

This weekend saw a return to the nursery at Great Dixter to buy plants for the newly rejuvenated garden. A wander around the gardens is compulsory for this Busman’s Holiday shopper.

Tulips (2)It seems like every corner, every pot, every border has its Tulips. The massed ranks of reds, oranges, yellows and purples are out in all their brilliance and on a quiet but blustery rain threatening Saturday afternoon, the colour bursts upon you.

Tulips (11)

There are delicate touches and hues of soft pinks and apricots, but it is the carmine reds and contrasts of tangerine orange under planted with a sea of blue forget-me-nots that stays with you. Is it just me that when looking at these photos feels like I’ve partaken of hallucinogenics? The sheer scale and audacity of planting is what hits you.

Christopher Lloyd said on colour that “I have no segregated colour schemes. In fact, I take it as a challenge to combine every sort of colour effectively.”

Tulips (13)

I can’t help but think that Lloyd couldn’t have had the song Tiptoe Through The Tulips in mind when he planned and planted here, I’m wondering if he had FireStarter as earworm instead……

Tulips (4)

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1st Impressions



  • They’re fantastic, aren’t they? It’s when they look naturalised like that, with grass and forget-me-nots and what-not growing with them as well that the huge abundance of the planting becomes so exciting – and, as you say, the colour. It’s the only time I miss the cold – when I’m walking through a springtime garden like this and can only look …. 🙂

    • I think the audacity, inspiration and ability to plant on such a scale and not be held back by conventions is what really makes my mind whirr. Trying to capture even the essence of it is a challenge, so it’s a pleasure to share them with you

  • Tulips were one of my father’s favourite flowers and he planted masses of them when we lived in the suburbs. Not quite as varied as the beautiful ones you’ve shown, but still, quite attractive in their beds. Thank you for sharing your expedition and pictures.

    • Morning Cathy, the colour burst is certainly a refreshing sight after the greys of winter, but I’m noticing how everything is coming out at the same time, which is making for remarkable viewing in the garden!

  • The brown two-tones and apricots for my garden, please, dear genie!! Now where is that genie when you so need her 🙂 !

  • we cant grow tulips here so i love to see them … thanks claire .. audacious and outrageous colour schemes!

    • Interesting Marie that you don’t like them in your own garden, I know a lot of people who don’t like the dead straggly leaves, I have a few in the garden at home and will probably add a few more simple for some early colour in pots

  • Ah, these colors are wonderful, aren’t they? What colors! What variety in shapes! I love tulips planted in masses like this. Do they did them up each year after they’ve bloomed, or does something else come in? I don’t like to dig mine up, but let them naturalize in my beds, so I’m always wondering what others do with that tall drying stalk. I try to have daylilies or something taller – that won’t detract from the tulips when they flower, but will later hide the dying stalks. Thanks, Claire!

    • Hi Cindy, yes they do dig them up after flowering and then store them in dark cool sheds, and when the leaves have died back they sort and organise them. A lot of work as you can imagine! I’m wondering what to do with mine in the garden, I think because time is short I will leave them to be straggly! I think next year I’d like more in pots on their own, so I could hide the pots when the colour show is over! And thanks for popping in Cindy, hope you have a bright and beautiful week

    • HI Linda, and THANK YOU 🙂 It’s a pleasure to share bright beautiful photos with you. Hope you have a great week – that perfect mixture of sun, warmth and rain that we all dream of

    • It’s a great combination isn’t it – they are at the opposite ends of the colour spectrum and always work well together, but a bravo to Great Dixter for planting them up 🙂

    • I missed the meadows this year, the early flowers were done and dusted. But the magnolias were out which more than made up for it 🙂

  • I’m loving the intensity of these tulip shots, especially the light-rimmed orange ones. Such a short season, but so splendid!

  • Tulips are a longtime favorite of mine–bulb flowers in general, in fact. Maybe in part because I grew up in one of the prime bulb growing regions in the US and our town had its annual Daffodil Festival. 🙂 Great Dixter’s gardens look like sheer heaven to me!

  • Absolutely gorgeous! The colors of those tulips are just extraordinary. I love the burnt orange color, in particular. Nature’s palette is unbelievably exquisite! Very special, Claire.

    • The bluebells are out at the moment, I see the blue carpets as I whizz past on my train journey in to London. It’s a beautiful time of year

  • I love the orange tulips amongst the forget-me-nots – might have to pinch that idea for next year! Just noticed your new (?) banner too – great photo of the bumblebee.

  • Stunning and very rich …. colors are just fantastic! That last photo is so wonderful .. and the tulips with the “forget me not” in the background … what a wonderful sight. Thanks for sharing.

  • Oh this was just the fix of pretty flower pictures that I needed! Thank you for sharing them. I’m still learning about which colors to mix together in the garden. I tend to make clumps of colors! I need to work on that… 🙂

    • Oh I know what you mean, I think it takes years and years to develop as a gardener, and then in takes a bit of boldness on your own part and then, well probably patience! I do love going to other gardens, I always learn so much from them. Happy gardening 🙂

  • What a great post and salute to Spring! Your photos are well-shot, Claire, and I can only imagine how beautiful the gardens must be. It must have been a real pleasure to stroll through them.

  • I love the tulip photos! I have hundreds of daffodils but a grand total of 3 tulips (one of which was eaten by a rabbit as soon as it bloomed). More tulips–resolution for fall!

  • Every petal, perfection!
    As we still lag behind here, my tulips are barely out of the ground!
    Had to turn heat back on in the greenhouse last night!

    • Gosh you are a lot later than I realised. My last tulips in the garden are out, and suddenly there’s a gap in the colour, hurry up summer warmth I say!

  • Claire… talking about hallucinogens and naming the Prodigy… You really made me laugh! Pictures are awesome, I love the tangerine orange tulips above a drift of FMNs, although I’m normally not very fond of forget-me-nots. Beautiful post.

  • Firestarter! Wow, that took me back Claire. Looking forward to playing it for my boys in the morning. Nothing like a burst of Prodigy at breakfast. Absolutely gorgeous photos. I was born in Holland so they tugged at my heart-strings. As a teenager I liked to taunt my dad by threatening to get a large tulip tattoo (alas I never did – maybe I will when I’m a granny). Great post!

  • Oh the orange and the blue Vibrates with energy, startling!! Now i desperately want to do that in my garden.. but they don’t flower at the same time here.. poo. have a lovely day claire! c

    • Poo indeed. I have just planted some orange grass (doesn’t die back) and plan to nick the idea and plant the forget-me-nots under them. We’ll see if it works…….

  • What beautiful colors! I particularly like the apricot tulips and the blue forget-me-nots.The pictures are lovely.

  • These tulips are beautiful and are every bit as lovely as all the millions of tulips I viewed for the past two weeks in The Netherlands! Great photos Claire.

    • Hi Teresa, and thank you. How lovely to have been to the Netherlands, a favourite of mine, although I’ve never seen the tulip fields I can imagine how wondrous a sight they are

  • These are absolutely gorgeous. My favorite flower is tulips and so happy to see them. 🙂 My favorite gotta be the purple ones. Wish you a wonderful weekend and thanks for sharing.

  • They really are stunning. If you get a chance, wander along Bexhill seafront and the Manor Barn Gardens in the Old Town. In Manor Barn they have some amazing tulips which look like peonies!

    • We were there today, but they have pulled most of them up and replaced them with summer bedding, The peony tulips sound a treat too !

  • Can’t decide which of these shots I love the most…one of my very favorite blooms and you’ve captured them all so beautifully Claire!
    I’m delayed on everything these days…but I’m actually liking this brief return to Spring now that Summer is here. Backwards I think is my direction of choice right now. xox

    • Gorgeous to here from you Spree, and thank you for your kind words. Now I can imagine you and I sitting at the table maybe a glass in hand, chatting away trying to work out where the plants should go 🙂

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