Tulipa tarda


All of the early bulbs are blooming at once this year: squill, and snowdrops, and hyacinths, and daffodils, and crocus. The tulips are holding off, as always.



Except Tulipa tarda.



Funny: the name, Tulipa tarda, means “late tulip.” But hereabouts, it blooms before all of the other tulips. It’s a botanical tulip, which means that it was never hybridized; it still grows wild on the plateaus of central Asia.



It is a small tulip, with bright yellow-and-white starlike flowers on short stems. Most hybridized tulips bloom for a year or two and then die away; Tulipa tarda goes on and on for years and years.



I love hybridized tulips, don’t get me wrong. They can be extraordinary: the parrots, and the lilies, and the Rembrandts. The colors and shapes are beautiful.



But one of the charms of spring bulbs is their simplicity. We don’t look for lots of variation in our crocus, or our squill, or our snowdrops: we just love looking out the window and seeing hundreds of them thronging the garden.



That’s what I love about Tulipa tarda. They are simple and unextraordinary and still very beautiful. They pop up from the grass and shine up at you like little stars.



If you want something different and easy and charming in your garden in early spring, go buy a few T. tarda bulbs.



You won’t regret it.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

2 Responses to Tulipa tarda

  1. starproms says:

    That’s a very pretty tulip isn’t it Loren. On short stems, it won’t get blown about too much, which is such an advantage.

    • They’re very pretty. They’re simpler than the hybrid tulips, but bright and very sweet-looking, and I think they’re very hardy, and they seem to bloom year after year.

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