On Gardening: Start digging not to have Christmas tulip display in April

October 20, 2014

Christmas Dream is an award-winning tulip that dazzles in the spring garden

Christmas is still a couple of months away, but as gardeners we need to also be thinking about Christmas in April. Christmas Dream is an award winning tulip that can give your landscape the perfect spring crescendo of blossoms but that will take immediate planning on your part.

I wasnít familiar with this tulip until a landscape professional in Columbus, Ga, showed me the beauty that can be created with this stunning variety. It is an early variety that can reach from 12-18 inches. The beds I photographed were in the taller range and were blooming at the end of March and into April.

Itís funny that most catalogue photos show the same color but the descriptor range from fuchsia pink to mauve rose. I would agree to all of those including what I might call a deep rose pink. My landscape professional created an idyllic spring of what is considered triadic harmony. It was so rich in bloom that neighbors frequented the landscape.

The ground work was just that, as soil preparation is certainly the key to the green thumb. Even though this soil was considered good by many standards it was the addition of peat and organic soil amendments that created the fertility and drainage needed by cool season flowers.

The dazzling display took a little thoughtful planning as the tulip partners were both Matrix and Majestic Giants II pansies. Pansies are planted in the fall and usually when they are in bloom. Tulips on the other hand are also planted in the fall but as bulbs normally set about 6 inches deep and will never be noticed during the time they are developing roots beneath the soil.

There is always a tendency to line up tulips like toy soldiers in straight lines. This can certainly work and is ever so dramatic in large beds. Never underestimate the power of a drift or informal planting as well. This can actually make a small tulip display seem larger.

A lot of gardeners are familiar with working a monochromatic or complementary color scheme but triadic or quadratic harmony is a little more challenging. In this case the blue-violet and yellow pansies served like complementary companions as the yellow is from the warm side of the color wheel and opposite from the blue on the cool side. These are highly contrasting colors bringing out the best in each other.

But what about the rich rose pink? you ask. This was the third ingredient to our triadic harmony. It serves to temper or preserve the balance and color vibrancy in the flower border. When working with three or four colors, simply strive to space these colors equal distance apart on the color wheel. You will enjoy having strong contrast but a balance you might not have thought possible.

In the South pansies bloom and look good all winter. As this garden transitioned into spring and as the pansies were peaking, the tulips emerged, creating what might be considered a spring crescendo like the finale to a great concerto.

You still have time to do the same; you can create a spring crescendo in your garden by incorporating bulbs like the Christmas Dream tulip into your floral display. Though the bulbs wonít be seen until-spring, do like the landscape professional did: Let them play an important role in your color scheme planning.



Associated Press