GBBD: Tulip Time

The tulips are out and much in evidence wherever I go, like the tulip festival at Dyrham Park I showed you last week. They also seem to be telling the story of our strange season this year as everyone's talking about having stumpy tulips!

The subject cropped up again last Friday when I revisited The Organic Garden at Holt Farm - more to come - and we concluded the dry winter's to blame, though I'm also wondering whether the unseasonally warm winter meant they didn't get enough chilling time. The warm weather in February/March started them flowering early too and the colder weather of the past couple of weeks has slowed their decline. It means my display is lasting much longer than usual.

The pictured 'Spring green' seems to be one of the more reliable varieties - no stumpy tulips here thank goodness - and are standing proud in the large pot I have of them in the front garden. This is their third year of flowering with no sign of their blooms getting smaller, unlike some tulips which are left in situ to bloom again.

In the back garden it's a different story. The tulips I so admired a couple of years ago seem to have changed colour! The deep shade of mauve I loved then has turned into a wishy washy pink. The blooms have faded now, but I'm still puzzling over them. They're also in pots so I'm pondering whether the bulbs need feeding or whether they're offshoots from the original bulbs. They're not streaked so I'm discounting it's due to a virus.

I learnt recently the petals are edible - they're supposed to taste like peas or beans - though I haven't plucked up the courage to try one yet. Must do that later!

How are your tulips doing? Are you finding they're stumpy too?

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Update: The Guardian has picked up on the stumpy tulip story (and linked to here - yay!). It does look like the dry weather's been the culprit - though it doesn't resolve @countrygate's comment here, who kept hers well watered (she's wondering about chilling time). My 'Spring Green' are later flowering, so the recent spell of rain probably got to them just in time.


  1. From @countrygate on Twitter: I'm backing the lack of cold as reason for stumpy blooms. Watered mine well but ones in the coldest part of plot did better.

    My reply: interesting - my non-stumpy tulips are in the front garden which faces N & therefore is cooler. Seems to support yr conclusion

  2. Since living in Italy I have found my tulips always start 'stumpy' and then most grow taller stems. This would support your theory about lack of a decent cold spell as the reason this happens. Although we do have cold weather it is usually in late January or February as this year when we had two weeks of snow and freezing temperatures in February but up until then the weather was very mild. The same thing affects whether the crab apples flower or not. Christina

  3. I use wordpress as you see and they are very good at sorting out the spam, in fact only one or two spams have got through in over two years of blogging. Christina

  4. Hi Christina - welcome! Yes, there's been quite a lot of speculation on whether climate change will affect the ability to grow apples in the UK as the chilling time they require is substantial. Daffodils need it too, though they seem to have flowered as usual round here and haven't demonstrated problems like the tulips have done.

    I have wordpress blogs too - though I haven't found akismet as infallible as you have. The Blogger software is also trapping most of the spam so far thank goodness *crosses fingers*

  5. Beuatiful tulips and interesting information about them!
    If tulip petals are edible, you should add that to your 52 Week Salad Challenge!
    Lea's Menagerie

  6. Great tips and think you for the info!

  7. I haven't noticed my tulips being stumpier this year, but it's certainly been a strange year for tulips. Besides being a month earlier than usual, my early tulips faded quickly because of the heat. My later tulips have lasted longer, but they've had to recover from a freeze! 'Spring Green' is a beauty and one I want to remember when ordering more tulips this fall.

  8. No stumpy tulips up here in Scotland but I'm sure it's the temperature thats doing it. I'm wondering if newly bought bulbs next autumn would maybe need to be kept in the fridge for a time before planting if these mild weathers are a trend in the future ........just the way we put some seed packets like primula's in the fridge before sowing them. I know that my Ballerina tulips are renowned for changing colour after a few years but it's not such a colour change like yours.

  9. When my oriental lilies changed colour, it was because I was using an incorrect fertilizer.

  10. No stumpy tulips in these parts VP but do not grow many - don't like the leaves so eating them sounds a splendid idea :) Do let us know what they taste like.

  11. The tulips in central New York State/US started early in march due to unusual warmth only to be thrown into hard freeze. The tulips do not appear to be growing. Near Albany New York about 80 miles SE of here the tulips are spectacular.

  12. I love these tulips...mine have not made an appearance this year and I am puzzled...perhaps they will show up soon but it is a bit early for them

  13. Guessing the difference in our locations is showing now as our tulips aren’t out yet . Haven’t noticed if they will stumpy or not – but will definitely be paying attention now (not that I have that many tulips).

    Love that Spring Green you have – that’s one on my keep meaning to plant list. Looking forward to seeing/hearing more about Holt Farm – guessing you took many photos on your visit :-D


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