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Tuesday, March 6, 2012


How can anyone remain indifferent, even hostile, towards this flower, passes my understanding, yet many fastidious gardeners disapprove.  The tulip is many things, not just one, and you can choose and treat it to suit your own tastes.  For use in a formal setting, such as public or town gardens, it is a regimental flower, to be arranged in serried ranks.  It is this treatment that puts many people off tulips.  In the right place I personally like it, although I do not want it thus in my own garden.  Tulips are just as amenable to an informal arrangement.

You can choose between formality and informality in the flower itself.  Darwins are the most formal tulip group.  They are also the dullest in outline; rather solid, square-shouldered bulbs, lacking elegance.  But, although generally long-stemmed, they are sturdy and remarkably wind-resistant.  If the flower still holds together, we shall not mind too much when the wind blows a tulip stem aslant - not in an informal setting, anyway.  Tulips, unlike daffodils, are resilient.  If a daffodil is knocked down by wind and rain, down it stays; but tulips are gifted with swan-like necks, which they can turn so as always to face upward again.

Christopher Lloyd, The Well-Tempered Garden

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