Finally, a day where I’m not hungover and it’s not bucketing with rain: result! The tulips are released from their sack and into the damp dark earth.

On such short, dim days why spend the effort (and it is effort; see planting tips below) planting the pale sugary colours, the lemons and washed-out pinks? No, it’s drama, punch and intensity that will make the eye and the heart sing come spring.

There are a couple of tips with tulip planting:

  1. don’t be afraid of clashes – as long as they’re strong colours, then orange will sing next to pink, maroon with red, creating a carpet of jewel-like intensity
  2. mix of two or three complimenting or contrasting flower shapes – choose from the wonderful array of cup, bowl, fringed, parrot, lily, slender or star-shaped
  3. get them in the ground as soon as you buy them – this is almost impossible if you have November party hangovers and it’s raining a lot
  4. pick sunny spots and if your earth is heavy try adding a bit of gravel into the hole first to avoid the bulbs sitting in water, which they hate
  5. squeeze them deep enough to deter the squirrels – 10cm is good, 15 better. I use a Japanese hoe, a vicious thing which carves into the ground like a warm pick-axe through margarine, making planting almost a pleasure
  6. plant loads – try for 15 per metre square in a mixed border
  7. interplant with a contrasting lower colour – grape hyacinths, wallflowers and forget-me-nots all make great foils for tulips, and help blur the foliage as it fades back in early summer

Here are the colours I’ve gone for this year… not a two-tone or pastel in sight.

Tulip Time Van Eeden mix I
Tulip Time Pink Mix II
203095 Tulipa Pink Impression
Tulip Time Van Eeden mix I thumbnail
Tulip Time Pink Mix II thumbnail
purple-tulip thumbnail
Tulip-field thumbnail
203095 Tulipa Pink Impression thumbnail
princess_irene_purple_tulips__14781.1346082798.1280.1280 thumbnail
Orange&PurpleTulips thumbnail