A bouquet of tulips

At the Toronto Botanical Garden on Sunday, we visited the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society plant sale. Wow. Wall-to-wall plants and people make for a floral feeding frenzy. Considering the temptations, Sarah & I were restrained, coming home with only three and two plants. (The members’ preview for the TBG’s own plant sale is this Wednesday, May 5th; that, and the 10% discount, are great reasons to join.)

The so-called rain made only a brief show, and soon the day was baking. TBG’s Piet Oudolf-designed entry garden seems to be a month ahead of schedule. Facing south, sheltered, and slightly elevated, this little microclimate seems to be in the Carolinas. Baptisia two feet tall. Peony buds, dewy with nectar and visiting ants. And tulips, of course, already nearing their apex.

The season is accelerating at an alarming pace. Better get out there and enjoy the spring bulbs. Shown at the top, I’m guessing the pink one is the peony-flowered Tulipa ‘Angelique’, but unsure what the orange fellow is making this particularly brazen display.

Above and below, two shots of renegade colours from the purple tulip beds at St. James Cathedral.


Gotta love those orange tulips. Above is Tulipa ‘Prinses Irene’. Yes, that’s how you spell it. Its purpley flashes at the base are subdued in this photo by the full cup of sunshine.

Lily-flowered Tulipa ‘Ballerina’, which is welcome to dance in my garden anytime it likes.

This year, the TBG volunteers and staff were a little too previous (as our Gran would have said) about cutting back last year’s grasses from amongst the tulips in the Garden Hall Courtyard garden (here are some images from last year). One little patch remained in a small bed by the parking lot. Analogous colours and contrasting textures made a picturesque meeting of the seasons.


  1. Pretty, vivid blooms. I can't help but be surprised that a bright orange tulip is named Ballerina – I always picture pale pink for flowers of that name. But the petals are very elegant, like a dancer, I guess.

  2. They're so pretty. I've been telling my kids about the tulip craze and they look at me as though I'm making it up. Maybe these pictures would help.

  3. I came here yesterday and couldn't leave a comment, but things seem to be working fine today. The tulips are beautiful and I never tire of looking at them. 🙂 Gorgeous!

  4. Tulips, tulips, and more tulips… My favorite cut flower might just soon be my favorite bulb as well. I've got plans for digging this fall.
    Beautiful pics. Love Angelique, it's so gorgeous.

  5. VW, Aren't the Ballerinas lovely. Even more graceful in real life. I've developed a real passion for orange tulips.

    Yolanda Elizabet, Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the spelling of Prinses… I thought you might have the answer.

    Stefanie, There are a couple of entertaining books about the original tulipmania. One of them is by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. The tulip-related book is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Another is Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. Fun reading for the winter months.

    Heather, Hasn't our so-called Spring been ridiculous? Goes with 2009's so-called Summer and so-called Winter. Enjoy the tulips while ye may.

    Diana, Thanks most humbly for your blog mention. It gave me a real thrill.

    Jean, Do you not plant tulips? My garden is so small (in the back) and tree-rooty (in the front), that I really shouldn't, but do. A handful, but always a joy… till the leaves need to ripen.

    Ms. S., You're so right about the swaths. I guess those bulby swaths were another sign of wealth… lots of servants to plant and transplant to the nursery bed. Plus, a nursery bed. They make a stunning image, though.

    Laura, I'm with you on the orange train. Next year, I think I'll go for the, er, gold-ish.

    Tatyana, Viva tulips, indeed!

    Darla, Thanks! I sure wish they were growing in my garden.

    Nancy, Wonder what was up with Blogspot yesterday? I'll check into it and see if they had an advisory up. Thanks so much for returning.

    Autumn Belle, Happy Spring to you, too. Spring in Toronto this year seems to be all squished together with summer. How are things down south?

  6. Hey Helen! How did I do that? I wanted to link to your post, because my last post was also about tulips. So, I clicked Create a Link, and somehow your post was published as my own on my blog!It even appeared on Blotanical as my new post… What did I do wrong? Of course, I removed it as fast as I could. I apologize. I need to educate myself. Or someone, please, educate me!

  7. Hi Helen,

    Prinses Irene, I think is also fragrant. And Ballerina had Christopher LLoyds stamp of approval. It is one of the most perennial of the hybrid tulips.

  8. The tulips are spectacular, Helen, I can never get my fill of these eye stoppers! Because of the unseasonably warm temps, mine are waning fast 🙁

  9. Hi Helen… love Irene and Ballerina. Great colours and shapes. Very nice! What fantastic displays. Just to say that I’ve added this post (with another) to a bit of a tulip photo fest I’ve been running all week. You can see it here. If you’ve any more tulip pics you’d like to share 😀

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