Harlow Carr’s tulip trail has 100 different species of the spring favourite flower

This Spring we are celebrating with a new Tulip Trail at RHS Garden Harlow Carr with over 100 different species on display in the garden. The Tulips have put on an early display this year with the mild winter and warm spring they have come in to bloom up to a month earlier than last year!

The Tulip has always been a sort after and cherished bulb, introduced to Holland in the 17th century during the Dutch ‘Golden Age’. Tulip bulbs would trade for hundreds of times the average workers annual wage during this crazy period before the market crashed and prices fell to nothing.

Tulips enjoy free draining conditions, mostly in full sun. We grow them successfully in impressive container displays where these conditions are easily achieved with a mix of John Innes Number 2 and Multipurpose compost. Horticultural grit can be added to loosen the mix, particularly if growing species Tulips. A good top dressing of grit on the top of pots helps to improve drainage come bulb planting in November.

One of the newly planted Tulip bed features Tulia ‘Mango Charm’, T. ‘Francoise’ and T. ‘Queen of the Night’, a beautiful mix of pastels and dark shades. If you have already made a visit this spring you may have seen the new impressive show at the Entrance to the Plant Centre, the Tulipa ‘White Prince’, T. ‘Orange Emperor’, T. ‘Strong Gold’ and T. ‘Red Impression’ looking amazing enclosed by the stone walling. There is also a small collection of species Tulips in the Alpine House. These are tulips which naturally occur in the wild, they tend to be smaller and more importantly successful repeat flowerers something which is difficult to achieve with cultivated Tulip bulbs. They love a well-drained medium to grow in so use at least a 50:50 girt to the above compost mix in deep terracotta pots.

During our Spring Plant Festival this weekend we will be joined by specialist nurseries selling a range of beautiful plants alongside the RHS Late Daffodil and Tulip Competitions, showcasing the best of spring colour. Hopefully one of the most impressive and later blooming Tulips will be out in flower for the festival Tulipa acuminata, a pale yellow with red tipped twisted petals which come to a point, not the daintiest but one the most impressive blooms to hunt out in the Alpine House. Come and take a peak!

With thanks to Amy Smethurst Ponziani, Horticulturist at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Jobs To do

* Don’t be tempted to cut down spring flowering bulb foliage let them die down naturally storing energy for following year’s growth.

* Prune penstemons, cutting back old stems to the base or if there is no new shoots to few new leaves at the base.

* Plant out sweet peas against supports and tie them in as they grow to encourage strong growth.

* Continue to earth up potatoes covering new growth.

* Begin to harvest asparagus and keep picking your rhubarb to encourage a good crops through the growing season.

* Keep new additions to your garden well-watered, particularly shrubs and trees.


From 24 April: The Tulip Trail Tiptoe through the tulips at RHS Garden Harlow Carr as the garden celebrates the colour and scent offered by these beautiful bulbs. Get inspiration for your own garden with a range of striking planting schemes featuring more than 100 varieties of tulip – from traditional beds and borders to quirky containers. Pick up a trail leaflet to guide you to the highlights, and to see Curator Paul Cook’s top 10 tulip recommendations. Don’t forget to visit the Plant Centre to pre-order your bulbs for striking displays next spring. Normal garden admission applies.

29 - 30 April: Spring Plant Festival including the Tulip & Daffodil Show Don’t miss the chance to buy a range of beautiful plants from specialist nurseries. This hugely popular event, which includes the RHS Late Daffodil and Tulip Competition, will provide great inspiration for your garden at home as well as a wealth of advice. Normal garden admission applies.