Top ten tulips to plant for next spring

With the season for buying and planting next spring’s bulbs under way, 10 tulip fanciers select their star performers

Alan Titchmarsh, gardener and television presenter
“I plant Queen of Night (above) and Pink Diamond quite simply because the two of them together are a perfect mix. I love them in the narrow twin borders that lead up to my greenhouse. I try something fresh there every year, but these two win the crown.”

Philippa Burrough, Ulting Wick Garden, Essex
“Black Jewel is a wonderfully dark-purple, fringed tulip that repeats well, year after year. It needs to be planted somewhere where the fringes can be admired. Survivor is a late, tall and strong variety of a beautiful rose pink with paler pink running through it; Peter Nyssen’s sales of Survivor are donated to Cancer Research.”

Country Life

Christmas Marvel tulips

Kathryn Bradley-Hole, gardens editor, COUNTRY LIFE
“Strong, crimson-pink Christmas Marvel (above) opened in March and was full on throughout April. It’s not too tall, is sturdy and long- lasting, even in a windy location. Orange Ballerina (below) is fresh and lively among spring foliage; we grow it beside a south wall, for its vanilla-violets scent, redolent of old-fashioned Love Hearts sweets.”

Country Life

Orange Ballerina tulip

Tom Coward, head gardener, Gravetye Manor, West Sussex
“My favourite is Tulipa sylvestris, which works so well in the meadow; its buttercup yellow colouring is riveting with bluebells. In the flower garden, Red Shine is a beautifully shaped,
strong red. One of the latest tulips to flower, it combines well with Allium Purple Sensation.”

Harvey Stephens, Head of the Savill Garden, Windsor, Berkshire
“Tulipa acuminata has slender, flame-coloured petals standing bolt upright. Erratically planted through the Dry Garden, it appears to be perennial. Tulipa turkestanica is a subtle species with elegant, ivory petals, egg-yolk yellow at the centre. Given free-draining soil, it’s perfectly hardy and ideal for the alpine trough or rock garden. The bonus: up to 10 flowers per stem!”

Country Life

Swan Wings tulips

Ursula Cholmeley, Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire
“Pure white Swan Wings (above), a fringed variety, is tall, very elegant, long-lasting, reliable and appears disease-free. Tulipa humilis Lilliput is wonderful for naturalising in grass. Its delicious dark colour is a great surprise when it appears in short grass in the spring.”

Troy Scott Smith, head gardener, Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
“Spring Green is cool and elegant, the height varies and it looks good with everything. I grow it with white foxgloves to good effect. Bleu Aimable is a deep, lavender-mauve that holds its colour for ages. It looks well at Sissinghurst planted en masse in the Purple Border with sweet rocket.”

Charles Quest-Ritson, author and gardener, France
“Carnaval de Nice is an intriguing late-flowering double, lasting a long time both in the garden and when cut for the house. Tulipa sprengeri, last of the wild tulips to flower, is best grown in masses. This is easy to achieve, because it’s a great naturaliser and seedlings soon develop into flowering bulbs”

Country Life

Attila tulip

Catherine Erskine, Cambo Gardens, Fife
“Our head gardener Elliott’s choice is Attila (above), which is good for interplanting with herbaceous varieities and the colour is a useful transition from red to black. I would like to add Tulipa batalinii Bronze Charm. It’s so reliable, flowering again each year. Dainty, greyish leaves set off the pale bronze flowers beautifully. It’s just as lovely at the front of a well-drained border as in a shallow pan.”

Caroline Sweerts de Landas, Dunsborough Park, Surrey
Angélique (below) is a beautiful, peony-type tulip in a pale blush pink that darkens with age. We plant it underneath a group of cherry trees to reflect the colour of the cherry blossom; the effect is really striking. Temple’s Favourite is our winner! The carmine red with orangey edging and a yellow base looks magnificent where we plant them against a red-brick wall. The stems are very strong and are good for cutting for tall flower displays.”

Country Life

Angelique tulip

Tulip suppliers include:
Avon Bulbs (01460 242177;
Bloms Bulbs (01234 709099;
de Jager (01622 840229;
Crocus (01344 578000;
Gee Tee (01205 260412;
H. W. Hyde & Son (07557 530845;
J. Parker’s (0161–848 1100;
Peter Nyssen (0161–747 4000;