Spring Blooms

Tulips, those extraordinary harbingers of spring. What makes tulips so special?

"They are showy and bloom only for a limited time," pondered Duane Otto, Arboretum landscape gardener. "Once reserved just for royalty and used as Dutch currency, a tulip's role is to be gorgeous."

He predicts that spring blooms will burst upon the scene a bit early this year, with peak blooms happening close to Mother's Day. Otto is the garden architect and creative force behind the design presentation of spring tulips, for the past 24 years. His inspiration is the uplifting emotions that springtime brings...and channeling that into the passion colors-shades, tints and tones of red .

Otto presents a geometric quilt design of 100+ varieties of tulips (including lily, fringed, parrot), a mind-boggling array of 32,000 short and long-stem, single and double blooms, mid- and late-season blooms in extraordinary colors of ruby reds to rosy pinks. Joining the collection of tulips are a smattering of hyacinths and 6,000 pansies. Look for tulips in:

  1. Highway 5 entrance, 3,600 tulips including "Red Shine," "Mariette" and "Virichic," opens to a dreamy pale rose, matures to a dark purplish-pink, with green flames or feathers.
  2. The Snyder Building, African delight, apricot cherry and candy apple varieties.
  3. Sidewalk bed, "Lucky Strike" with pinkish-red blooms edged with bright white.
  4. Flagpole bed, violet-pink and ivory petal edges of "Swinging World."
  5. Oswald Visitor Center entrance, 3,200 blooms in 17 varieties "Burgundy Lace" with velvety, wine-red color and heavily fringed edges; double "Pink Star" "Palestrina" pink enhanced by green flames or feathers.
  6. Visitor Center planters, tulips mingled with snap dragons, hyacinths, pansies, English ivy, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce and pineapple mint.
  7. Home demonstration garden, Viola "Pink Supreme" and Viola "Delta Pure Red."

Gardening books, gear and supplies available in the Gift Store.

Growing tulips tips from Duane Otto, Arboretum landscape gardener:

  • Plant to a depth of 2X diameter size of the bulb
  • Purchase bulbs with forced blooms
  • Plant bulbs in cool season
  • Mix in with ornamental vegetables
  • Cluster 9-10 tulips together and small groupings
  • Plant in midst of perennials so garden always has growth to cover fading foliage.
  • Use bulb food or fertilizer at planting time