Tag Archives: tulips

Pale and interesting ?! 

20 Sep

I’ve noticed a bit of a floral shift over the last year – the well established trend for bold, dark florals seems to be facing a bit of competition from the pale end of the spectrum. 

For many years, the dahlias that you’d see everywhere were the dark, moody ‘Chat Noir’ and ‘Arabian Night’.

But this autumn, you’d have to have been going round with your eyes closed not to have spotted this years ‘must-have’ dahlia – ‘Cafe au Lait’ – a completely different kind of colour – pale, subtle, even maybe a little insipid ? 

Photo below courtesy of Cherfold Cottage Flowers – more beautiful homegrown flowers. 

I think some of this love for paler flowers has come from another trend I’ve spotted on Instagram – a very theatrical setting for floral arrangements, reminisant of Dutch Masters paintings. And with a dark background, the paler flowers really pop out ! 

The photos above are from the beautiful The Garden Gate Flower Company who specialise in homegrown British flowers – and who also take beautiful photographs ! 

Obviously these paler flowers also suit the bridal flowers market. 

So it is no surprise to see that this years bulb catalogues are also full of new paler varieties. 

I’ve always grown plenty of bright and bold tulips that look equally fabulous in the garden as they do in the house. 

But this autumn I’m keen to try a new palette of softer, subtler colours. 

The ones that have caught my eye include ‘La Belle Epoque‘, ‘Bruine Wimpel‘, and ‘Purple Tower’.

This last one , above, isn’t really pale and interesting but so unusual ! 

I’ll report back in May to see if pale is really interesting ! 


Combination conundrums – the ones that work and the ones that maybe don’t !

30 Apr


With hundreds of different varieties of tulips available these days , the permutations are endless and endlessly confusing !

So with all the tulips in full flower it’s time to assess this years combinations and look at the hits and misses..

First up is an old favourite – Havran + Princess Irene + Coleur Cardinal


This is a very bold, challenging, contrasting combo, which won’t suit everyone and works best where you can appreciate the overall effect as in the first photo. In one bed where I planted this selection I spaced them too far apart and the effect is lost – don’t approach this combination timidly – go bold or go home !

A slightly more subtle approach to the burgundy / orange mix is – Ronaldo + Artist + Raspberry Ripple



The green flashes on the Artist soften the orange and they’re a beautiful shape. Like many of the Viridiflora tulips it’s also quite a long lived tulip, coming up reliably year after year.

A classic combination – Queen of Night + Purissima


A really classy pairing – similar shaped tulips but contrasting colours. Another long lived tulip too. The colour story continues with the beautiful purple Heuchera Plum Pudding.

A new combination that’s really pleasing me – Anthraceit + Raspberry Ripple + Flaming Spring Green


The same colour runs thru all three of these tulips but they’re different shapes and the ripple looks amazing !

Another classy variation – Black Parrot + Spring Green


This is a great selection for cutting – you’re never going to find these colours in the supermarket !

An oldie but a goodie – Ballerina + Havran


The lily shaped tulip Ballerina is a classic and just goes perfectly with dark blackcurrant Havran.

And two combinations I’m not sure worked –

Purissima + China Pink


Nothing really wrong with it – but I don’t think they enhance each other.

Rai + Havran


I was really excited about this parrot Rai, but the colour is a bit dingy and lilac – the shapes great but the colour doesn’t work for me.

And whilst we’re looking at planting combinations , how about these tulip/herbaceous mixes-

Tulip Ballerina + Euphorbia Oblongata


Tulip Havran + peony


If all this talk of carefully chosen combinations bring you out in a cold sweat, then don’t worry – just throw them all in together and see what you get – which is what happened below – and doesn’t it look fabulous !!


Garden visit – Coughton Court, Warwickshire

25 Apr


I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to visit Coughton Court – for almost 18 years I’ve only lived 40 minutes away ! But I’m so glad that at long last I’ve made it !


I chose a beautiful April day to visit and was able to enjoy the spring gardens at their best.
The house dates from 1409 and I’m sorry to say that as the weather was so lovely we gave it a miss! But architecturally it was a pleasing mix of half timbered facades and fancy Elizabethan stonework. The gardens are spread around the main buildings and two churches – a catholic one and a Church of England one – can’t but feel they were hedging their bets rather !
A large lake and parkland complete the quintessential English landscape.

Coughton Court is renowned for its rose garden and despite it being far too early to actually see any roses, it was a good time to see the mechanics that goes in to training roses. Many hours have gone into pruning and tying in the hundreds of roses – pergolas, arches, and walls have all been put to good use.
Many of the shrub roses in the main beds have been trained using a post and wire structure that pulls all the growth down to form a dome, thus encouraging each branch to put up flower stems along its full length. Very keen to go back in June to see the results !

Without leaves on the trees and before much of the perennial growth has emerged it was easy to see the backbones of this garden – beautiful benches to linger on, at every turn – dramatic eye catchers in the form of bright pavilions – structured allees of pleached limes leading the eye to yet another urn.


Careful preparation of the beds had taken place – compost spread liberally, shrubs well pruned and extensive forests of pea sticks had been woven over every emerging clump- these plants wanted for nothing !


Away from the formal areas , the orchard had been put to a new use – Dutch tulip field! Lines of bright tulips waved in the breeze growing straight out of the long grass – looking both naturalised and formal at the same time. You were invited to pick your own tulips but sadly the price seems to deter most people from doing so – perhaps I can go back in a few weeks time when they’re going cheap !

The lake is surrounded by narcissus and bluebells – flowering a few weeks earlier this year I’m sure. An interesting swamp garden was waiting to burst into life with huge gunnera and bull rushes. And of course there were the obligatory rare breed sheep !

A lovely stroll in the sunshine was rounded off with traditional National Trust tea in the stable yard. Well, you have to, don’t you ?!







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