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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Tulip Challenges?

In 1593, a Flemish botanist named Carolus Clusius was sent some tulip bulbs by a friend of his who was the Austrian ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. When Clusius accepted the position of curator at the botanical gardens in Leiden, Holland, he took his bulbs with him.  The first tulip to bloom in Holland bloomed in his private garden in 1594.  

People were fascinated by these strange new flowers and the demand began.  This led to what is now referred to as Tulipomania, a period between 1634 and 1637 when tulips were selling for exorbitant prices.  There were so valued that, for a short time, they became a form of currency, like silver and gold.

Tulips are native to the mountains of Turkey and Russia, therefore, they need a period of “vernalization” or cold, before blooming.  The mountainous regions to which they are native have very cold winters and dry summers, so tulips do best in these conditions (so don’t put them where they will get hit with in-ground sprinklers all summer long.)  If you've had problem with tulips, it's usually because they're either missing that dry summer dormancy they want or...some cute four-legged varmint ate them.

Because tulips are edible, they sometimes have challenges here in Central Virginia, but I have some in my yard that have been there for years—and not bothered by pests (either above ground or below).  Planting tulip bulbs deep (about 10 to 12”) means the digging critters tend to miss them.  Squirrels don’t dig that far down and voles tend to use mole tunnels—which are usually 6 to 8” down.  Planting deeper and the voles and squirrels miss them.

For above ground pests, like rabbits and deer, I either mix my tulips with or surround them by daffodils.  Daffodils are poisonous, period.  Deer don’t eat them, squirrels don’t, rabbits don’t.  I’ve sat on my deck and watched as a deer moseyed around the corner, sniffing at the daffodils surrounding a nice patch of delicious red tulips—and kept on walking.

By the way, an advantage to planting tulips so deep, is that you can cover them with dirt up to the six inch depth and set daffodil bulbs right on top.  The tulips will come up in between the daffodil bulbs.  If you want to get even fancier, cover the daffodils, then put pansies right dab smack on top.  Instant bouquet.  The pansies go all winter and provide a beautiful under-planting when the bulbs bloom in the spring. 

If you like fragrance, you can substitute hyacinths for the daffodils (deer and voles don’t like them either).  I call planting in layers like this ‘Lasagna Gardening.’  Just remember, tulips always go in the bottom layer, daffodils or hyacinths always in the middle.  Small bulbs like crocus or grape hyacinths can even go on top of the daffodil layer, if you want. 
Posted: 10/24/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: bonnies, garden, tulips
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