One of our gardeners has sent me an image of one of my favourite tulips.
It’s a Darwin Hybrid (Group 4, in tulip classification). These tulips tend to be tall, statuesque, with large, single goblet-shaped flowers. And they tend to be robustly perennial. Where many other tulips fade away, and fail to flower in subsequent years, not so the Darwin Hybrids. They were first introduced in the 1950’s by the Dutch breeder, DW Lefeber, after he had crossed Tulipa fosteriana ‘Madame Lefeber’ with a number of single late cultivars (known then as Darwin tulips).
If you have seen clumps of pillar-box red tulips come up year after year in old gardens or on council verges, these are one of the earliest and most popular introductions, ‘Apeldoorn’.
Our tulip today is from that stable of Darwin Hybrids. It’s ‘Ollioules’.
‘Ollioules’ has an AGM from the RHS, and well deserved, too. It has rose pink petals shading through cream and ivory white at the edges. Its flowers are long-lasting, both in the garden and in a vase. Its only drawback is if the year brings heavy gales, when the large flowers can be snapped off in exposed positions.
It is named for a medieval French village close to Toulon and the Provençal coast.
It’s readily available, and worthwhile looking out for. My favourite bulb supplier was offering them last year for 36 pence each. Cheap at the price.