Sunday, March 11, 2012

A dainty new favorite - Tulipa polychroma

I've just discovered a new tulip favorite : Tulipa polychroma, a wild species from the rugged mountainsides of Iran and Afghanistan. I've never grown it before; a herd of deer make nocturnal grazing visits to my garden (they just chomped the heads off of most of my white crocuses...), so I haven't invested much in planting them. Instead, I grow them and other 'deer delicacies' in shallow terracotta pots on the balcony under my kitchen windows, which is not a bad solution, as in this way I can follow them closely. Without the deer, this species would be perfect left to naturalize in the rocky parts of the garden.

What I love most of this tulip is its delicately veined petals - just take a closer look at them in the first picture. What comes to flowers, I usually fall for anything veined or striped or otherwise reminiscent of watercolor painting, preferably with a white base color acting as a canvas, so these little fellows match perfectly my tastes. The outer petals are tinged with olive and mauve with a hint of yellow at the tip of the petal. The white inner ones have distinct, thin strokes of olive in the middle, emerging from a yellow base - so elegant. A bit temperamental, the buds only open in full sun, turning their own yolk-yellow centers to the light. And just like they wouldn't already be quite perfect, they also carry a fresh, sweet scent - in short, is has everything you could wish for in a small, species tulip. 

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