These shiny bulbs are the Princess Irene tulips I planted yesterday—all 200 of them. Princess Irene are what are referred to as “early” tulips. In zones 5 and above, no doubt they do bloom in April, as advertised in the bulb catalogues. Here in zone 4b, early is mid-May. Princess Irene tulips are tangerine orange with a purple flame. So pretty. I planted 30 dark purple “Miss Saigon” hyacinths to edge the tulips at the front of the bed and to provide a lovely fragrance.
Gardeners favor various methods and tools for planting tulips. Over the years I’ve developed my own “graveyard” method of planting that I think is faster albeit messier than using any commercial bulb planters. It works best when you have space to work with, but I’ve done it successfully when hemmed in by perennials too. When you’re planting more than 100 bulbs, planting one bulb at a time can get old fast. (On a trip to the arboretum I did see someone using a power drill fitted with a big auger that looked promising. However, the power tools at our house belong to my husband, who’s shown a strong aversion over the years to having dirt anywhere near them, so that method will likely remain only a tempting theory.)
This is a close up of the pit I dug. It’s approximately seven inches deep and about 8 feet long. If you try this method, keep the dirt very close to the grave, and maintain a small opening for getting in and out. Otherwise, you’ll have too far to go to return the soil to the hole and suffer lots of cave-ins!
Here’s another shot to give you the full picture.
My husband commented on the military precision of my bulb placement this year. Normally, I’m all about scattered drifts and irregular, natural looks for planting beds, but this was a new planting in the rectangular bed that runs parallel to the front of the house, and the rectangular shape made sense. Time will tell if I like or hate the squared off results!
My spacing is tighter than recommended, but I learned last year that cheek-by-jowl is too crowded. I’m hoping this 3″ spacing will be just right. I replant my tulips every year because most tulips don’t naturalize well—so I want a lush but not crowded look.
Now it’s onward to planting drifts of Spanish bluebells in the shade garden and nearly 400 species tulips in the rock garden. Sounds like a lot of work, but they’re much smaller and much quicker to plant than tulip bulbs . . . Okay, I may have over-extended myself a bit this year. But just wait until spring! It’s going to be glorious.